The paper considers the usefulness of the concept of civil society—both as an analytical construct and a policy tool—in non-Western contexts drawing on a selected review of literature on Africa from anthropology and development studies. Rejecting arguments that the concept has little meaning outside its Western origins, and critical of the sometimes crude export of the concept by Western donors to build ‘good governance’, the paper examines local meanings being created around the concept. Nevertheless, it acknowledges that such adaptations are part of an increasingly universal negotiation between citizens, states and markets. Current efforts to bring peace in Somalia are, in part, drawing on the language of civil society. Despite the apparent novelty of the rediscovered concept of civil society, it can also be invested with historical depth in the study of citizenship, exclusion and colonialism. The concept arguably therefore has both analytical value as well as inspirational power.
This paper examines two competing views that have been put forward about the East German third sector. One view sees the third sector in East Germany as an expression of civil society, rooted in an emerging democratic culture, and based on a broadening social participation. According to the other view, the East German third sector is largely an extension of West German organisations that, in the process of “peaceful colonisation,” created “organisational shells” without a corresponding “embeddedness” in local society. The paper suggests that the way the policy of subsidiarity has been implemented in Germany may help account for such competing interpretations: subsidiarity has created tendencies toward a bipartite third sector, with each part differing in size, scope and financial structure. One part is relatively well funded and state-supported, the other characterized by small organisations and membership orientation. The unification process has amplified these tendencies, which, in the context of public austerity budgets, are having repercussions on the system of financing non-profit organisations as a whole. Thus, compared to other countries in Central and Eastern Europe the emerging third sector in East Germany is unique.
My research establishes that the elite of the Catholic Church in the Czech Republic demonstrate a strong commitment to the norms of tolerance, plurality, and public participation. This finding (the existence of democratic virtue within theocracy) challenges the contemporary consensus around the work of Robert Putnam and others that there is an inverse relationship between civility and associational hierarchy. I explain this finding by showing how the organisations and networks in which the Bishops were involved during Communism, for example Charter 77 and the prison universities, functioned as ‘schools of democracy.’ These ‘schools’ produced the strong civil values of Czech Bishops still in evidence today. The argument indicates that Putnam and other social capital theorists should move beyond the formal level of associations in their search for the causes of civic virtue.
On September 19 2003, following weeks of concerted mobilisation, mobile phone subscribers in Nigeria took the unprecedented step of switching off their handsets en masse. The consumers took this symbolic step in protest against perceived exploitation by the existing GSM phone companies. Among other things, they were angered by allegedly exorbitant tariffs, poor reception, frequent and unfavourable changes in contract terms, and arbitrary reduction of credits. That action has continued to reverberate across the wider social pool in the country. At issue is a series of critical questions, which the protest helps bring into focus- how useful, or reliable is technology as an instrument of social activism? How is (mobile) technology shaping the democratic momentum in Nigeria, and indeed the rest of the African continent? And significantly, how useful is technology as a mechanism for the socio-economic empowerment of ordinary citizens? Using the boycott and the attendant fallouts as backdrop, this study provides a number of tentative answers. It argues that the boycott ought to be appraised, first, in the context of existing mistrust between customers and transnational big business in Nigeria; and second, against the background of difficult state-society intercourse which has mostly been characterised by the latter's suspicion of the state's connivance with the corporate establishment. Furthermore...
The aim of this paper is to examine two concepts, gender equality and civil society, in order to understand what kind of relationship, if any, there is between them, and to observe how the feminist agenda might gain from such a relationship. In the revision of feminist history, the link between civil society, citizenship and state appears as the logical development in the struggle for feminist demands. Late 19th century and early 20th century feminist groups are a good example of how women have been very successful in forming associational groups as part of civil society and have claimed the rights that states have finally incorporated through equality policies and laws. Current democratic states have achieved a high level of legal equality, mainly through the mechanism of citizenship, but this mechanism does not seem empowered to undo other constraints that women suffer, especially cultural, social and economic constraints. In searching these inequalities we may find that the civil society arena is much tougher than that represented by a democratic state.
This working paper focuses both on theoretical analysis of altruism and its links with the promotion of active civil society. The main goal is to separate the different forms of altruism and to examine the factors contributing to the changing degrees of altruism. This paper also aims to specify the definition of altruism and the conceptual and empirical dilemmas related to it. The article will, first, look at how altruism has been understood within economic and sociological studies. The text will then – before focusing on the civil society links in the last section – concentrate on the main lines of empirical research on altruism, their main findings, and preferable future research developments. The overall goal of this text is to develop and focus the discussion and research on altruism by offering specifications, problems, and links with the empirical world – the search for a good communal life and a good society.
During 1997, many Thai NGOs became involved in anti-government protests at local and national levels as an extension of their advocacy work. The latest and longest protest in Thai history took place from January to May 1997 with more than 30,000 protesters taking part. The main aim of this paper is to examine why public protest has increasingly become part of the advocacy work of these NGOs. It suggests that where social and economic tensions have reached a crisis point, (generated by Thailand’s highly uneven economic development of the past decade), there is a phenomenon of ‘cultural drift’ in which dominant values and norms are challenged and protest action by the poor breaks out. Some Thai NGOs have therefore taken on the role of ‘social movement organisations’ and in interventions have attempted to shift conflicts from local peripheries into the national arena. Drawing on ‘resource mobilisation theory’, this paper argues that NGOs have become involved in the protest movement as ‘resources’ rather than as full ‘actors’ by providing linkages and networks. The study suggests that the ‘social movement’ perspective as a conceptual framework for the analysis of the NGOs’ advocacy work is useful. It also argues that the NGOs which emphasise advocacy should be considered as ‘social movement organisations’. It concludes that more comparative research is needed on NGOs which perform advocacy work...
Government’s use of voluntary organisations to deliver services, especially through the mechanisms of contracting and the welfare market, have raised concerns about the impact of government funding on the autonomy and special characteristics of voluntary organisations. This study investigates whether key actors from the voluntary and statutory sectors in two local authority areas perceive that the Compact on Relations between the Government and the Voluntary and Community Sector in England will be an effective guardian of voluntary organisations’ independence. It focuses specifically on three key dimensions: first, voluntary organisations’ ability to control who uses their service delivery programmes and how these programmes are run; second, organisational structures and stakeholder autonomy within voluntary organisations; and, third, the institutional and economic environment within which organisations seek funds. The study in fact finds little evidence of adverse impacts from government funding. There is some hope amongst voluntary sector respondents that local compacts will provide a general framework and philosophy to protect voluntary organisations’ independence, but considerable scepticism about practical effect and appropriate implementation. Significantly...
Two replication datasets relating to the article Lankina, Tomila V. and Getachew, Lullit (2012) Mission or empire, word or sword? The human capital legacy in postcolonial democratic development. American journal of political science, 56 (2), pp. 465-483. ISSN 0092-5853.
In this special episode we visit the Marxism 2012 Festival in London’s Bloomsbury to hear the latest from Marxist thinkers and activists. Professor of European Studies at King’s College London, Alex Callinicos, speaks about austerity and how Karl Marx’s theories have found increasing relevance in today’s recession-weary world. We then take a look at the leftist movements across the Atlantic with Eli Zaretsky, Professor of History at The New School for Social Research in New York. He talks to us about his latest book Why America Needs a Left, the rise of the Tea Party and how President Obama failed his left-leaning supporters. Presented by Amy Mollett and Cheryl Brumley. Produced by Cheryl Brumley. Music courtesy of Harri at freesound.org for his song Hypno5 as well as Thee Faction for their song “Ready”.
Professor of Politics at Sheffield University, Matthew Flinders, talks about his new book Defending Politics: Why Democracy Matters in the 21st Century, and argues that the problem with politics is not politicians themselves but the public’s understanding of the processes involved. LSE’s Armine Ishkanian speaks about her book Democracy Building and Civil Society in Post-Soviet Armenia and how civil society and democratisation projects need a firm grounding in a country’s grassroots in order to successfully aid its transition to democracy. George Lawson, Professor of International Relations at the LSE and an expert in democratisation and revolutions, tells us about the role the anti-apartheid movement had in sparking his early interest in international relations. We also catch-up with LSE Bees to talk about the wonders of hive behaviour.
Produced by Cheryl Brumley. Presented by Amy Mollett. Other Contributors: Cheryl Brumley, Matthew Flinders, Armine Ishkanian, Elisa de Denaro Vieira, George Lawson, LSE Bees. Music and sound came courtesy of the following users at freesound.org: bebeto (Intro music); Harri (Hypno1 and Hypno5); and Harp (Pryght-one).
We take a walk through London’s Chinatown with Rosemary Sales and Xia Lin, researchers at Middlesex University, to discuss identities in the area and meanings of home for Chinese immigrants. John Gittings, Research Associate at SOAS, talks about China’s early peace philosophers and the importance of engaging the country in diplomacy. Ting Xu, Research Fellow at LSE’s Economic History department, speaks about growing up in China in the wake of the Cultural Revolution and how her parents’ boundless passion for books was a source of inspiration. Presented by Amy Mollett. Produced by Cheryl Brumley. Other Contributors: Rosemary Sales, Xia Lin, Perry Fung, John Gittings,Ting Xu. Music and sound came courtesy of the following users at freesound.org: bebeto (Intro music); Harri (Hypno1 and Hypno5); and Harp (Pryght-one); and the following user from the FreeMusicArchive.org: Jiony (Not Found_Invisible).
Exploring the roots of militant Islam in South Asia and how it has grown to become a source of profound global alarm, Dilip Hiro tracks the growth of the jihadist movement from its first violent activities in Afghanistan in 1980 to the present day. Kenneth Martin would have liked to see more details and citations in some areas, but feels that overall the book remains very useful.
Roger Scruton argues that conservatism is far better suited to tackle environmental problems than either liberalism or socialism. He shows that rather than entrusting the environment to unwieldy NGOs and international committees, we must assume personal responsibility and foster local sovereignty. Sarah Lester finds this book offers an accessible and thorough review of a literature rarely discussed in conservative politics.
Hitler had a dream to rule the world, not only with the gun but also with his mind. He saw
himself as a ‘philosopher-leader’, and astonishingly gained the support of many intellectuals of
his time. In this book, Yvonne Sherratt explores Hitler’s relationship with philosophers through
investigation of international archives. Ignas Kalpokas finds that the book is relevant as a
historical account of a troubled period, but the core message of the book seems to be
For decades, liberal democracy has been extolled as the best system of governance to have
emerged out of the long experience of history. Today, such a confident assertion is far from
self–evident. Democracy, in crisis across the West, must prove itself. In Intelligent
Governance for the 21st Century, Nicholas Berggruen and Nathan Gardels critically
compare the West’s liberal democracy and the East’s meritocracy. Can we learn from
both? Dennis Shen believes the book is a great read and an important critique of modern
Since the 1970s, the countries of the Global South have sometimes struggled to express
themselves politically. In The Poorer Nations, Vijay Prashad analyses the failures of
neoliberalism, as well as the rise of the BRIC countries, and all the efforts to create alternatives
to the neoliberal project advanced militarily by the US and its allies. Lorenzo Ferrari finds
value in the book’s accessible tone and content, as well as its interviews with leading players
including senior UN officials.
Worldviews of Aspiring Powers considers domestic foreign policy debates in five emerging
influential world powers: China, Japan, India, Russia and Iran. Featuring leading regional
scholars, each essay identifies the most important domestic schools of thought and connects
them to the historical and institutional sources that fuel each nation’s foreign policy
experience. Ilana Rothkopf encounters some US-centricity, but overall finds that this in-depth
text bridges the gap between comparative politics and International Relations.
Malise Ruthven is recognised as one of foremost commentators on the Islamic world and its
relations with the predominantly secularized and Christian societies of the West. In
Encounters With Islam he seeks to offers astute and topical insights across the whole
spectrum of Middle East and Islamic studies. These essays will be widely appreciated by
students, specialists, and general readers, finds Marco Scalvini.
Paul Kelly finds that Jesse Norman’s latest book takes a close look at the idea at the heart of the coalition’s policy agenda, insisting that it’s much more than warmed up Thatcherism. The Big Society: the Anatomy of the New Politics. By Jesse Norman. Buckingham: The University of Buckingham Press. November 2010.