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The civic knowledge that Peter Levine describes in chapter 29 is in increasingly short supply. These trends make the protection and expansion of public spaces even more important, despite the difficulties involved, a point strongly made by Craig Calhoun and Charles Lewis in chapters 25 and At all costs, such spaces must not be captured by business or other concentrated private interests, and clearly governments have a major role to play in ensuring that this does not happen.

Unfortunately, relations between civil society and government are not moving in this direction in many parts of the world. Authoritarian and semiauthoritarian regimes continue to constrain, and in some cases actively repress, civil society, at least in its political manifestations, though as Jude Howell shows for China in chapter 13 , such strategies can be quite sophisticated in carefully calibrating different spaces for nonprofit service provision and citizen advocacy at different times.

Even in mature democracies, however, few governments are comfortable in actively promoting civil societies that are strong and independent enough to challenge their authority, especially after the events of September 11, and the ensuing war on terror which has exposed certain groups and activities to particular attention and interference.

Whichever position one adopts, it is clear that the structure of the economy and the nature of the political regime are the most powerful factors in determining the shape and functioning of associations and the public sphere, including in settings where religion is sometimes assumed to be paramount—a point well-made by Eberhard Kienle in chapter 12 in relation to the supposed incompatibility between civil society and Islam. If civil society means many different things and if these differences must be reconciled through dialogue and conflict over long periods of time, is there anything useful that can be done to accelerate the development of associations and public spaces in ways that are responsible, and to foster more interaction between them and with the state and the market in order to promote a more sustainable vision of the good society?

In many ways we know what not to do in answering this question, but we are much less clear about the alternatives. A forced march to civil society Western-style will do little to support the emergence of sustainable forms and norms in China, Africa, or the Middle East. An overemphasis on NGOs and service-delivery projects cannot change the civic and political cultures of India or Mississippi.

These are the priorities of most donor agencies and foundations, not because they are proven to be effective, but because they are easier to fund, report on, and manage. By contrast, the organic processes of civil society development are messy and unpredictable, and lie outside the control of the foreign aid system or philanthropy. As a result, even the more sophisticated efforts to nurture the ecosystems of associational life tend to short-circuit vital questions of culture, values, and politics, questions which do so much to determine the shape and functioning of civil society in all of its disguises.


  • Λειτουργικὴ Τόμος Α.
  • Traditions and reminiscences of Concord, Massachusetts, 1779-1878;
  • Conclusion: Civil Society as a Necessary and Necessarily Contested Idea.
  • Community development and civil society: making connections in the European context.
  • Civil Society and Local Development;
  • Resolving Ethical Dilemmas: A Guide for Clinicians!

Leaving aside the question of whether these deeper and more overtly political tasks are amenable to outside assistance of any kind, these critics raise some very important points. Obviously context is important: as Solava Ibrahim and David Hulme emphasize in chapter 31 , effective assistance to civil society poverty reduction efforts is not the same in India as it is in Bangladesh, where a much weaker state invites a larger role for NGOs in delivering basic social and economic services, ideally with some long-term impact on the claim-making capacities of citizens.

But as a general conclusion, the priorities of civil society support have been inverted, with the least important factors receiving the most attention like the number of NGOs , and the most important factors often being ignored—like indigenous expressions of associational life and their connections with political society, or at a more basic level, guarantees of human security.

Community development and civil society : Making connections in the European context - sleettiuquilen.gq

In that case, what kinds of support would be more useful? In theoretical terms, though drawn from a wide range of empirical experiences explored in this handbook, the ideal would be a well articulated and inclusive ecosystem of locally supported voluntary associations, matched by a strong and democratically accountable state, p. A society like this, in which different institutions consolidate their relationships with each other at a pace appropriate to the context around a gradually expanding economic base, would allow civil society to evolve organically and sort through the problems that are often associated with external assistance.

Clearly, this type of society does not exist anywhere, particularly in low-income countries, but by working backwards from this ideal it is easier to identify what can usefully be done, and when. First of all, there is a choice to do as a little as possible and simply let things take their course—to do no harm, so to speak, in the knowledge that any intervention runs the risk of producing consequences that are unforeseen. In a field as complicated and contingent as civil society, this is an attractive proposition, but it is unnecessarily restrictive because it ignores the fact that the preconditions for civil society—like security, equality, and the space to organize and express opinions—are all things that can be influenced without pushing associations in one direction or another.

Support to these preconditions is one of the most useful things that donors can do, though clearly it does not produce the kind of short-term, quantifiable results that are so popular with a new generation of philanthropists and international bureaucrats. Once equipped with these basic elements of human flourishing, people can build whatever kind of civil society suits their interests and agendas. But what else can be done? In chapters 35 and 36 , the contributors offer different perspectives on this question from the viewpoint of philanthropy, which has always been an important support to associations and the infrastructure of the public sphere, at least in the United States.

By building the independent capacities of a broad base of citizens to engage with each other and take collective action, philanthropy can support civil society to shape itself with a little more help along the way—not in the short-term, highly targeted, pseudoscientific way that is favored by technocrats, but gradually, over time, and directed by people's own interpretations of root causes and the strategies that are required to address them. Support for social groups who are disadvantaged in some way is especially important, since this helps to level the playing field for associational life and public interaction.

To take a non-Western example from Myanmar, local organizations, with support from outside the country, have adopted a range of lower-profile tactics after the suppression of street protests in which seek to take advantage of small-scale political openings and build some of the p. Over time, there is some chance that these kinds of support will help to knit together a strong and sustainable fabric of civic life and interaction.

There are no final words on civil society, because civil society is constantly being reinterpreted and recreated. This is particularly true at a time when emerging superpowers like China, India, and Brazil are entering and beginning to reshape global debates about politics and economics, often from the perspective of their own knowledge base and traditions which, in civil society terms, may differ markedly from the trajectories of North America and Europe, from where most civil society theory to date has emerged. In years to come, scholars and activists may be learning about civil society from the experiences of Kerala, Bolivia, and South Africa, and carrying these lessons back to California and London, as well as, one hopes, the other way around.

The civil society debate will certainly be all the richer for it.

Michael Edwards

Yet across very different contexts, as the contributions to this handbook show, civil society is most valuable as a set of concepts and practices when it is additional to, and not captured by, government and business—when it is seen and supported as its own distinctive creation rather than as the consequence of state or market failure. This is only possible if the debate is pluralized and opened up to new and different perspectives.

To do otherwise—to attempt to fix civil society in the context of one particular experience or interpretation—would be against the spirit of civil society itself. Edwards, M. Civil Society. Cambridge: Polity Press. Find this resource:. Post eds. Cleveland: Unlimited Love Press. Minkoff, D.

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Putnam, R. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice. Oxford Handbooks Online. Publications Pages Publications Pages. Search within my subject: Select Politics Urban Studies U.

History Law Linguistics Literature. Music Neuroscience Philosophy Physical Sciences. The Oxford Handbook of Civil Society. Read More. Subscriber sign in. Forgot password? Don't have an account? Sign in via your Institution. Sign in with your library card. Search within In This Article 1. The Changing Shape of Associational Life 2.

Civil and Uncivil Society 3. Threats to the Public Sphere 4. Can Civil Society Be Nurtured? Conclusion References Notes.

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Conclusion: Civil Society as a Necessary and Necessarily Contested Idea Abstract and Keywords This article sums up the key findings of this study on the role of civil society in shaping the geometry of human relations. Conclusion There are no final words on civil society, because civil society is constantly being reinterpreted and recreated.

Notes: 1. All rights reserved. Sign in to annotate. Delete Cancel Save. Nonetheless, CSOs currently may have limited impact on a policy-making level. Potential reasons for this include a lack of knowledge of the structures needed to become meaningfully involved or a lack of accessible structures , a lack of cooperation between CSOs, or a lack of awareness of the positive effects of CSI among policymakers. However, where these deficits exist, they represent an opportunity to leverage advantage, building stronger communities in the process. For example, ensuring CSI engagement in the policy process can lead to empowerment and increased participation among those who use drug care services.

Through civil society, participation becomes easier because of the diversity and entrepreneurialism of CSOs. Participating requires optimism, energy and specialist skills that an individual may not often possess, but that a group of citizens can jointly develop. Being a patient or service user can often be disempowering, and those who organise to share information can reduce these burdens and empower themselves.

This may result in an increased ability to manage their health care or an improvement in the quality and access of their care 9. By empowering its citizens, a strong civil society is a component of a strong democracy.

Civil Society Involvement in Drug Policy

As can be seen, the benefits of strong CSI for states are plentiful. Properly leveraged, CSI can help policymakers consider old problems in new ways, bringing a wealth of diverse experiences to bear on the issues facing modern societies.


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It can also improve things for citizens engaged in drug care systems, empowering them and encouraging participation. Finally, it can improve legitimacy, quality, understanding and applicability of policy initiatives, contributing to national and international strategic policy goals. Policy paper on government interaction with civil society on drug policy issues. Principles, ways and means, opportunities and challenges.

What is civil society and what can it do for health? In: S. Greer, M. Wismar, G. Pastorino and M. Kosinska, ed.

Fighting for Change: Influence on Local and Global Environment for Civil Society

Assessments of civil society involvement are the first step for CSOs prior to planning specific activities. They are an important and helpful tool as they enable CSOs to:.