9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN32 Political Sociology

2009-09-03 15:30:00 2009-09-03 17:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 15:30 - 17:00 Political Reform asd Its Discourses: Accountability, Governance, Participation, Equality, Proximity Building I, 2E9

New Dilemmas for Civil Society?

New Dilemmas for Civil Society?

The literature on civil society's organizations focuses mainly on the impact of Non-Governmental Organizations on institutional actors and policy-making. The aim of this paper is to explore the interaction between civil society's organizations and official politics the other way round, meaning the intrusion of institutional actors into civil society's domain. During the 70's and the 80's social movements' powerful pressure on institutional politics led to the gradual inclusion of some of their demands into official policies. However, since the 90?s policy-making has ceased to be merely responsive to the pressures of civil society and has instead started to engage proactively civil society in official policies. Two areas, which are representative of this progressive encroachment upon civil society's domain, are: 1) the increasing pressure of donors and international institutions on Non-Governmental Organizations to adopt "accountability tools" (e.g. mechanisms regarding operational capacity, management structure, performance measurements and accounting practices with an emphasis on legal obligations (e.g. performance assessments) as a prerequisite for their participation in official politics. This pressure has increased significantly the recent years. The paper will examine the impact on civil society's organizations and their ability to react in order to provide an alternative civil society's perspective on Accountability and Transparency, 2) the military army's cooperation with civil society's organizations in developmental/humanitarian assistance (civil-military cooperation (CIMIC)). This co-operation has provided NGOs with access to conflict zones. However, NGOs have become increasingly involved in the political processes of stabilization and reconstruction in the post-conflict era and often provide an exit strategy for the army, whenever it wants to disentangle from long term operations. These new tendencies favor the institutionalization and professionalization of civil society's organization, but on the other hand encourage civil society's participation in the implementation of official policies. The paper aims to explore the new context for civil society's organizations, the conflicts and divisions it has generated between civil society's organizations and finally the question of civil society's autonomy in this changing environment.