Civil Society, Interest Groups and the Media
o Framework within which those without political authority live their lives
o Coined in the 18 century, but saw a revival in the late 1980s and early
Philippines (1986), South Korea (1987), Tiananmen Square (1989),
Eastern Europe (1991)
o Promise of an alternative, more consensual, non-coercive democratic politics
Interpretation of Civil Society
o Is the term primarily analytical or normative?
o Does it imply altruistic commitment?
o Could it include groups like the mafia, fundamentalist religious groups, or
o Do existing inequalities in society favor some groups in civil society over
Problems with Civil Society
o The term has been resisted in a number of Islamic societies as a harmful
Western import, although the events of the Arab Spring are changing that
o The evolution of the groups that gave rise to the term is reason to feel less
optimistic about civil society as a model for future governance.
Interest Groups (Pressure Groups)
o Large component of civil society
o Present in all societies, including dictatorships (authoritarian societies)
o Some have argued against them as fractious (privilege some interests over
o Others have argued that they are the most rational form of political
o “Associations formed to promote a sectional interest in the political system”
o Do not necessarily seek to form governments
o Insider groups focus on lobbying
o Outsider groups focus on winning over public opinion through campaigning,
media etc. Phule’s Eight Types of Interest Groups
1. Professional associations
2. Groups of business, commerce and industry
3. Trade unions
4. Agricultural organizations
5. Single-interest groups, such as the National Rifle Association in the US (their
main focus is one particular issue)
6. Ideological interest groups, such as the Fraser Institute or religious groups.
7. Public interest groups, such as Amnesty International
8. Welfare associations, such as the Canadian National Institute for the Blind.
o Model where State formalizes relations with “insider” groups it deems most
important, also called “peak” associations
o Organization take an “interest intermediation” role and do not necessarily
promote a set view
Infrapolitics and Subaltern Studies
o A “view from below” that focuses on the grassroots level
o How do people relate to political systems?
“Infrapolitics is the realm of informal leadership and nonelites, of
conversation and discourse, and of surreptitious resistance”
Makes use of covert resistance, or “weapons of the weak” such as
poaching, land-squatting, desertion, evasion, etc.
Study of non-Western politics on its own terms, without reference
Concern with subordinated groups in society