Dissertation Abstracts

EU Accession and Civil Society Empowerment: The Case of Maltese ENGOs

Author: Briguglio, Michael , michael.briguglio@um.edu.mt
Department: Sociology
University: Malta, Malta
Supervisor: Prof Joseph Troisi
Year of completion: 2013
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: Environmental NGOs , Europeanization , Social Movements , Hegemony
Areas of Research: Environment and Society , Social Classes and Social Movements , Political Sociology


This thesis investigates whether European Union (EU) Accession has influenced civil society empowerment in Malta, with specific reference to Environmental NGOs (ENGOs). In particular, the study will examine whether Maltese ENGOs have experienced empowerment in the first years following EU accession.

This study verifies (1) whether EU accession has effected lobbying of ENGOs; (2) whether EU accession has enhanced the empowerment of ENGOs; and (3) whether EU accession has led to the institutionalisation of ENGOs.

This study analyzes the construction of environmental politics in relation to Malta’s EU accession. For this scope, discourse analysis was applied to engage with respondents from ENGOs and with specific case studies involving ENGOs in particular.

A major conclusion that can be derived from this thesis is that EU accession has generally enhanced the empowerment of Maltese ENGOs, but this process was uneven, was combined with other overdetermining factors and depended on different issues and on different types of ENGO.

ENGOs had greater access to opportunities that were unavailable prior to Malta’s EU accession. The construction or otherwise of hegemonic formations related to the empowerment of ENGOs was related to sensitizing, procedural, structural and substantive impacts.

Empowerment through hegemonic formations was not common, but ENGOs were successful in constructing nodal points and in benefiting from different types of impacts, especially sensitizing and procedural ones.

Another important conclusion is that even though ENGO empowerment could also be related to their institutionalisation, this process is not predetermined and does not preclude antagonism of such ENGOs to State structures and other social agents. The environmental movement remains is comprised of both moderate and radical ideologies.