Civil Society and Democratic Change. In Mia Mellin and Heidi Moksnes ed. Power to the People? (Con-)Tested Civil Society in Search of Democracy, Outlook on Civil Society, No. 1, pp. 41-56, Centre for Sustainable Development, Uppsala University, 2010.
Civil Society and Democratic Change
This article is divided into two sections. The first part maps civil society in Asia, exploring the range of non-governmental actors which exist, and which contribute to the struggle for democratic change or obstruct it. While civil society is a useful locus to explore this contest, given that it is internally divided, we need to analyse constituent elements separately for their relationship to the state, and for their democratic potential. The State is not a neutral actor, standing high above these contending agencies, but actively intervenes in the very constitution of these agencies as well as in social movements. We must keep in mind too, that sometimes progressive states may falter before regressive societies, i.e. the locus of democratic change must be looked for not only in civil society but also in the state. The second half of the article focuses on India, attempting to show, through one particular case study, the prospects and problems for democracy.
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