idsa012012: lecture outline Oct 10
Oct. 10 Citizens, Civil Societies, and Development
Prof. Paul Kingston
Prof. Bettina von Lieres
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Prof. Paul Kingston
What does civil society mean?
Lessons: You have to understand the term civil society analytically (its pitfalls in particular)
Work in Lebanon in the post-war period
Developing civil society?
- Problems of development intervention
Lebanese Civic Nationalist Mobilization- but what does it actually symbolize?
- Sign: Don’t challenge the army, it is the only institution that protects Lebanese society!
How is the story more complicated than a really nice optimistic narrative?
How do we define civil society- Easier Said than Done?
- The realm that exists between the state, the market and the individual
- Space between these three actors
- There are associations between these realms (civil society organizations: Social Science Students Association, labor
union, faith based organizations)
- Civil society is also about what they do. Interactions between associations produce norms and values that regulate
- It can contribute to the production of social capital
- Revive inclusive communities
- Trains effective citizens
- Reinvigorates the public sphere
Here is where it gets more complicated?
- Is the optimism warranted? Should we reexamine civil society?
- Is civil society an independent variable (forces something else to change) or a dependent variable (civil society
acts only because state acts upon it, they are not autonomous but dependent on state and markets)?
- How are civil societies related to the socio-cultural context within which they exist? How do they relate with the political
system within which they function?
- Is civil society united or is it (especially in the developing world) quite divided? Characterized by significant degrees of
separation? This view complicates our desire to present it as an independent variable
- Political actors penetrate civil society and create their own civil society organizations
- Powerful entrepreneurs will use their money to influence the operations of civil society
- High degree of interpenetration between markets, states and civil society
- Does civil society always support democratic processes?
- Not a unified variable!!!
How do civil societies relate to social structures (organized around class or ethnic communities)?
- What civil society does is influenced by the environment within which it exists, it reflects the socio-economic inequalities.
There will be more powerful organizations in civil society that will represent the rich rather than the poor.
- There are powerful ethnic divisions
- Civil societies taken as a whole, rather than transcending social structures will more likely reflect all the inequalities
present in societies.
- Civil societies will be highly influenced by the political institutions within which they operate
- Civil societies want to be active actors: states structure access to the policy table in very unequal ways
- Civil society organizations that challenge predominant networks to power will not succeed
- States gives advantage to certain portions of civil society
à Civil society is made up of an adverse ray of associations that compete against one another
à In order to really understand civil society, we have to start looking at the particulars actors and networks in
Implications to development industry:
- Donors should change which actors of civil society they are going to target
- Went through a long civil war
- What role can civic associations have in rebuilding the country after the war
- Development of a rights focused approach following the war supported by a globally emergent civil society
- 4 to 6 thousand civic associations in Lebanon
- Not all civic associations sought to contribute to improvements for the broader society
- Money raised internally, not too much dependence on foreign aid donors
- Highly unfavorable context within which to promote civic associations - High inequality, divisions: highly fragmented social structure
- Does civil society reflect these divisions?
- Political system reinforces the fragmented, highly hierarchical social structure
- Weak state, which is penetrated by foreign actors, which further promote fragmentation
- Most powerful civic associations are related to community and family
- Associated with large wealthy families
- Linked to networks of power within the country
- The associations linked to the networks of power used the connections to power to strengthen their positions against
secular democratic organizations.
- Puts secular democratic organizations at a structural disadvantage
- Bring money and resources, which are likely to spark competition within civil society for access to them
- Donations are never neutral, they enter into a political minefield and play into local political programs
- Three different effects:
1) Most of the bilateral organizations (government promoted paid programs)- deliberately linked to sectarian rather than civic
oriented networks of associations, thus increasing inequality. The sectarian organizations are more powerful and can
money more quickly and mainly serve to support powerful political actors.
2) Try to engage in depoliticizing initiatives
3) Rights based policy making. You support rights based organizations even if they are politicized.
- Civil society politics taken in general often serve to reproduce the inequitable sectarian politics in Lebanon.
- Efforts by democratic civic associations to challenge the prevailing power systems.
- All is not lost, there is still hope!
à Leading NGO’s are headed by women
à There are traditional forms of women’s activism: some have a more charitable, rather than rights based view of their
à Weakness of the Lebanese state? Lebanon has only one organization for women’s policy making. The example in the
shows how the market overpowers initiatives that target women’s rights.
à It is very difficult to get your foot in the policy making sectors. There are active efforts to disempower civil society activists.
àThe Co-optation/ Clientelization of Environmental Activism in Postwar Lebanon- penetrated by powerful political forces.
1) To protect the interests of their corporations. In this way they would prevent the environmental organizations from
campaigning against environmental damage by corporations.
2) By being associated with environmental organizations, they can co-opt environmentalism to legitimize their actions that in
reality destroy the environment.
Lebanon- mini civil war in 2008, state of Qatar paid deputies to go to Doha and stay t