Civil Society is widely recognized as an essential ‘third’ sector. Its strength can have a positive influence on the State and the Market.
Civil Society is therefore seen as an increasingly important agent for promoting good governance like transparency, effectiveness, openness, responsiveness and accountability.
What is Civil Society?
Civil Society may encompass a wide range of organizations concerned with public matters.
Civil Society is a sphere of social interaction between the household (family) and the State which is manifested in the norms of community cooperation, structures of voluntary association and networks of public communication.
Civil Society is composed of autonomous associations which develop a dense, diverse and pluralistic network.
As it develops, Civil Society will consist of a range of local groups, specialized organizations and linkages between them to amplify the collective voices of Civil Society as a partner in governance and the Market.
Separation from the State and the Market
Formed by people who have common needs, interests and values like tolerance, inclusion, cooperation and equality
Developed through a fundamentally endogenous and autonomous process which cannot easily be controlled from outside
Civil Society should not be equated to Non-Government Organizations (NGOs)
NGOs are a part of Civil Society though they play an important and sometimes leading role in activating citizen participation
Role of the Civil Society?
- Civil Society has been widely recognized as an essential ‘third’ sector
- Its strength can have a positive influence on the State and the Market
- Civil Society is therefore seen as an increasingly important agent for promoting good governance like transparency, effectiveness, openness, responsiveness and accountability
Civil Society can further good governance by:
- Policy analysis and advocacy
- Regulation and monitoring of State performance and the action and behaviour of public officials
- Building social capital and enabling citizens to identify and articulate their values, beliefs, civic norms and democratic practices
- Mobilizing particular constituencies, particularly the vulnerable and marginalized sections of masses, to participate more fully in politics and public affairs
- Development work to improve the well-being of their own and other communities
Role of the Civil Society in the Democratization Process?
- Watchdog – Keeps government on its toes
- Buffer for government innovative ideas
- Resist government to overstep powers
- Educate people on their rights
- Give people a platform to address their development issues and sensitize
- them on what government cannot do
- Obtain and retain power
- Ensure transparent and accountable government
- Enhance good governance
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