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Civil society

This page forms part of the Governance Theme section on 'political systems'. DFID's approach emphasises the role an active civil society can play in creating a responsive and accountable government. This page contains a series of key texts which explore the role of civil society.

Key texts

Robinson, M. and White, G. 1998, 'Chapter 13: Civil Society and Social Provision: The Role of Civic Organisations' in Minogue, M., Polidano, C. and Hulme, D. 1998, Beyond the New Public Management: Changing Ideas and Practices in Governance
This paper examines two types of civic organisations: formal, such as non-governmental, non-profit organisations (NGOs), churches, labour unions, farmers' organisations, philanthropic business and professional associations and informal, such as user groups of various sorts as well as parent-teacher committees.
Full document available available through: BLDS document delivery service. Please access full summary and then click on the link for "BLDS Document Delivery Service".

Howell, J. 2000, 'Making civil society from the outside - challenges for donors,' The European Journal of Development Research, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 3-22.
This European Journal of Development Research article critically evaluates the normative vision provided by donors which is deeply rooted in Western ideas of how civil society should operate. The paper examines the broader context of the rise of civil society as a target for donors, the operationalisation of civil society through the types of projects implemented by these organisations, and some of the contradictions and dilemmas of manufacturing civil society using these techniques.
Full document available through: BLDS document delivery service. Please access full summary and then click on the link for "BLDS Document Delivery Service".

Carothers, T. 'Think again: civil society', Foreign Policy, Winter 1999-2000, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
A paper by Thomas Carothers, vice president for global policy at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, examines the history of civil society and explores the above questions in an international context. With examples about the uses and abuses of civil society, the paper demonstrates that there is a fragile link between civil society, democracy, governmental and non-governmental organisations, the state, and globalisation.
Full document available online

Edwards, M. and Hulme, D. 2000, 'Scaling up NGO impact on development: learning from experience,' in D. Eade, ed. Development, NGOs, and Civil Society, Oxfam, Oxford, pp. 44-63.
This chapter reflects on a workshop held at the University of Manchester in January 1992, devoted to addressing issues related to the enhancement of NGO impact. The future role and effectiveness of NGOs may be related on their ability to increase, or 'scale up' the impact of their development work.
Full document available through: BLDS document delivery service. Please access full summary and then click on the link for "BLDS Document Delivery Service".

Moore, M. and Stewart, S. 2000, 'Corporate governance for NGOs?,' in D. Eade, ed. Development, NGOs, and Civil Society, Oxfam, Oxford, pp. 80-90.
Increases in funding in recent years have led to a proliferation of development NGOs. This has led to much-debated problems associated with their accountability, size, growth and processes of evaluation. The NGO sector has grown so fast that no sector-wide institutions have yet emerged or been encouraged.
Full document available through: BLDS document delivery service. Please access full summary and then click on the link for "BLDS Document Delivery Service".

Goetz, A.M. and Gaventa, J. et al. 2000, 'Bringing citizen voice and client focus into service delivery,' IDS Working Paper no. 138, Institute of Development Studies, Brighton.
This study examines current public sector reforms across the world in both developed and developing countries. It assesses their attempts to focus more on the needs of users. It also looks at how effectively civil society can voice its demand for improved services.
Full document available online

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