Chapter 12: Civil Society, Interest Groups, and the Media
Civil Society – Framework in which those without political authority live their lives – relationships,
structures, institutions, etc.
- Analytical Concept: Civil Society does not exist independently of political authority (& vice-
Civil Society grew when regimes were overturned by unorganized previous political forces in 1980’s.
E.g – During Autumn of Eastern Europe in 1989: Civil society brought down Communist regimes -> end
of Soviet Union in 1991.
- But these regimes were powerful and had secret police forces that helped them suppress protests (
Hungary in 1956 & Chezoslovakia in 1968).
- Civil Society`s Victory of overthrowing of communist regimes show the important of their political
- Victory proved that the communists efforts to identify, remove, and punish organized opposition
- As a result of this victory civil society became the focus of intense attention = showed the promise
of an alternative, more consensual, non- coercive democratic politics.
Policy makers in West Government and International Organizations – disenchanted with giving aid to
governments in the developing world that failed to reduce poverty
- Saw Civil Society as Good governance and democracy
- Good Governance = A set of principles formulated by international financial institutions to make the
government of developing states fair, effective, and free from corruption.
- Widely dispensed to NGOS in developing world in hopes of spreading enthusiasm.
- Advantages: Operated in large numbers, in dictatorships, and through grassroots levels.
- channelled aid to developing world countries that could afford to support a western style welfare state.
- Provided assurance that aid would actually be provided
- Women took more part = didn`t in previous governments
- allowed individuals to stand up for their rights
Problems NGOS Faced:
- Victim of own success
- Became dependant on foreign aid to support activities = more focused on that versus aid projects
- Dictatorships and Regimes reduce foreign aid to prevent losing authority
- Countries created own civil societies that they could control (eg. Indonesia)
Questions of Civil Society:
- Includes Interests Groups?
- Does it provide Protection against the anarchy of weak or failed states? Interest Groups = Groups within civil society that seek to press specific interests on governments (also known
as pressure groups
Anarchy = The absence of political rule or sovereign authority. In realist and neorealist IR theory, the
international sphere is considered anarchic because there is no sovereign authority standing above the
individual states that make up the sphere. States have no choice but to defend themselves
- Civil Society is an ambiguous term
- Brought utopian visions
- Big component of Civil Societies
- Seen as Negative: Privilege others interests and reject others.
- Seen as Positive: Facilitate new input of new ideas in political processes.
- Don’t form governments – only focus on a few issues
- Some evolve into political parties
- Insider Groups= interest groups that enjoy a privileged relationship with government
- Outsider Groups= interest groups that enjoy no special relationship with the government and thus seek to
press their case from the outside
- Role a group plays depends on its government
- Pursuit political goals and adapt themselves to the structure of the institutions they wish to influence
8 Types of Interest Groups:
1. Professional Associations
2. Groups of Businesses, Commerce and Industry
3. Trade Unions
4. Agricultural O