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Transnational alternative policy group

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Transnational alternative policy groups (TAPGs) produce evidence-based knowledge, which challenges dominant economic, political and cultural practices and perspectives and promotes alternatives.[1] These groups work in dialogue with transnational social movements and publics, seeking to facilitate democratic alternatives to neoliberal, global capitalism.[2]

Practice and Criteria[edit]

Unlike a social movement organization, which produces knowledge as it engages with dominant institutions, TAPGs' primary efforts are focused on producing knowledge. They are think-tanks, yet they differ from conventional ones, which conduct policy research and engage primarily with elite political and business circles and corporate media, sustaining a network of alliances that support neoliberal capitalism.[3] Typically, TAPGs work with progressive social movements, learning from them and providing critical ideas -- strategic, policy-oriented, and visionary -- that inform activist initiatives. As a distinct agency of alternative knowledge production and mobilization, such groups are defined by three criteria:

  1. The core function of the group is the production and mobilization of alternative knowledge;
  2. A significant portion of their practice takes up transnational issues and speaks to transnational social movement groups and publics;
  3. The group engages a wide range of issue and is not highly specialized.[4]

Recent research by Carroll[5] has identified sixteen alternative policy groups that fit these criteria particularly well:

Established Name/Home Base Acronym
1974 Transnational Institute (Amsterdam) TNI
1975 Third World Forum (Dakar) TWF
1976 Tricontinental Centre fr:Centre tricontinental (Belgium) CETRI
1976 Research and Information Centre for Development (Paris) CRID
1982 Participatory Research in Asia (New Delhi) PRIA
1984 Third World Network (Penang) TWN
1984 Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (Manila) DAWN
1989/1995 Third World Institute/Social Watch (Montevideo) ITeM/SW
1990 Rosa Luxemburg Foundation (Berlin) RosaLux
1994 International Forum on Globalization (San Francisco) IFG
1995 Focus on the Global South (Bangkok) Focus
1997 Network Institute for Global Democratization (Helsinki) NIGD
1997 People's Plan Study Group (Tokyo) PPSG
2001 Centre for Civil Society (Durban) CCS
2005 Alternatives International (Montreal) Alternatives
2005 India Institute for Critical Action: Centre in Movement (New Delhi) CACIM

TAGPs disseminate knowledge not only via mainstream media venues, but also through activist networks and alternative media, often working collaboratively with social movements in implementing these ideas.


In comparison to conventional think-tanks and policy-planning groups TAPGs have been slow to emerge and have formed in smaller numbers.[6] Their development has proceeded in tandem with transnational social movements, emerging since the 1970s. They are therefore embedded in social networks that make up an emerging ‘global left’ that is composed of social movements, progressive NGOs and alternative media.[7] As these movements and groups have developed as advocates for more democratic and socially and ecologically just forms of globalization,[8] TAPGs have emerged in symbiosis with them, providing intellectual resources that aim to facilitate the construction of social, political and economic alternatives.


  1. Carroll, William. 2015. "Modes of Cognitive Praxis in Transnational Alternative Policy Groups". Globalizations, 1-18. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14747731.2014.1001231
  2. Carroll, William. 2013. “Networks of Cognitive Praxis: Transnational Class Formation from Below?” Globalizations, 11, 651-670.
  3. Stone, D. 2000. “Think Tanks Transnationalization and Non-Profit Analysis and Advocacy. Global Society, 14, 153-172.
  4. Carroll, William. 2015. "Modes of Cognitive Praxis in Transnational Alternative Policy Groups". Globalizations, 1-18.
  5. Carroll, William. 2015. "Modes of Cognitive Praxis in Transnational Alternative Policy Groups". Globalizations, 1-18.
  6. Carroll, William. 2014. “Alternative Policy Groups and Transnational Counter-Hegemonic Struggle.” Pp. 259-84 in Yıldız Atasoy (ed.) Global Economic Crisis and the Politics of Diversity. London & New York: Palgrave MacMillan
  7. Carroll, W. and Sapinski, J. 2013. “Embedding Post-Capitalist Alternatives? The Global Network of Alternative Knowledge Production and Mobilization.” Journal or World-Systems Research, 19, 211-240.
  8. Steger, M., Goodman, J. and Wilson, E. 2013. Justice Globalism: Ideology, Crisis, Policy. London: Sage.

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