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Purpose – This chapter on global civil society provides a definition of global civil society, and also provides a historical and theoretical overview of social movements…
Purpose – This chapter on global civil society provides a definition of global civil society, and also provides a historical and theoretical overview of social movements. This chapter also presents a taxonomy of non-state actors and demonstrates at the theoretical level that actions and initiatives by non-state actors since the 1990s’ globalisation. In this chapter, the concept of civil society is presented as a form of globalisation from below, and its role in the participatory governance of societal processes implies forms of soft regulation and moral authority which transcend the role of states as enforcers.Design/methodology/approach – This chapter is based on an extensive literature review.Findings – Actions and initiatives by non-state actors in the current age of globalisation have been increasing. This increase has become more evident with the more stringent traceability of processes associated with the development of information and communication technologies (ICT), and private forms of organisation networking at the local and transnational level. This has re-defined geographical boundaries, creating proximity between individuals which goes beyond physical constraints, and it has extended definitions of communities to multiple levels of identification and convergence, but also divergence.The concept of civil society and its role in the participatory governance of societal processes implies forms of soft regulation and moral authority which transcend the role of states as enforcers. The idea of civil society opens a space for non-traditional actors to actively participate and engage in the political processes of change in society, for the betterment of marginalised groups, the environment or social justice in general. The diversity of roles that single individuals have in society allows them to participate from different angles.Although the concept of civil society has limitations due to its breadth, manifestations of a global civil society can be understood as forms of globalisation that occur outside traditional institutional settings.Originality/value of chapter – This chapter provides a general overview on civil society, and its relevance for analysing contexts of international business, and MNES's relations with community and non-governmental groups. Within this chapter, it is also conceptually describe how multinationals as non-state actors have increasingly playing a role in providing welfare.