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Book part
Publication date: 12 October 2012

Jon Shefner and Harry F. Dahms

Purpose – The discourse about civil society is closely tied to the role of collective action in general, and of social movements in particular. Yet the origins of the…

Abstract

Purpose – The discourse about civil society is closely tied to the role of collective action in general, and of social movements in particular. Yet the origins of the recent emphasis on civil society are located in the 1980s – the time period during which the wave of neoliberalism began its rise and spread.

Design/methodology/approach – In order to properly situate the concept of civil society and related debates, they must be linked to efforts to delegitimate and demonize the state that also started gaining momentum during that decade.

Findings – The historical context of its emergence suggests that civil society may not be so much an analytical category for purposes of social research, but a theoretical category that is imbued with political content, both positively and negatively – both as a means to promote progressive ends, and as an expression of the context in which those ends started to face mounting resistance.

Research limitations/implications – At the very least, the concept of civil society has a tendency to distract – both by design and by default – from important questions and challenges, such as those related to the role and persistence of structures of inequality in early 21st century global civilization.

Originality/value – A promising starting point to circumnavigate the counterproductive consequences of the use and abuse of the civil society concept and debate for social research may be its explicitly dynamic conceptualization.

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Theorizing Modern Society as a Dynamic Process
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78190-034-5

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Article
Publication date: 1 May 2006

Rob Gray, Jan Bebbington and David Collison

The purpose of this research is to seek to understand and explain the non‐governmental organisation (NGO) and its location in civil society in order to provide a basis for…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this research is to seek to understand and explain the non‐governmental organisation (NGO) and its location in civil society in order to provide a basis for future research work. The paper aims to explore and develop understandings of accountability specifically in the context of the NGO and then extend these insights to the accountability of all organisations.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is framed within a theoretical conception of accountability and is primarily literature‐based. In addition secondary data relating to the issues of concern are collated and synthesised.

Findings

The research finds that the essence of accountability lies in the relationships between the organisation and the society and/or stakeholder groups of interest. The nature of this relationship allows us to infer much about the necessary formality and the channels of accountability. In turn, this casts a light upon taken‐for‐granted assumptions in the corporate accountability and reminds us that the essence and basis of success of the corporate world lies in its withdrawal from any form of human relationship and the consequential colonisation and oppression of civil society.

Research limitations/implications

The principal implications relate to: our need to improve the analytical incisiveness of our applications of accountability theory; and the possibility of the accounting literature offering more developed insights to the NGO literature. The primary limitations lie in the paper in being: exploratory of a more developed understanding of accountability; and a novel excursion into the world of the NGO and civil society – neither of which feature greatly in the accounting literature.

Practical implications

These lie in the current political struggles between civil society and capital over appropriate forms of accountability. Corporations continue to avoid allowing themselves to be held accountable whilst civil society organisations are often accountable in many different and informal ways. Ill‐considered calls from capital for more oppressive NGO accountability are typically, therefore, hypocritical and inappropriate.

Originality/value

NGOs are introduced in a detailed and accessible way to the accounting literature. The concept of accountability is further developed by examination of relationships and channels in the context of the NGO and, through Rawls' notion of “closeness”, is further enriched.

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Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 19 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 30 July 2018

Obby Phiri, Elisavet Mantzari and Pauline Gleadle

The purpose of this paper is to critically explore the interactions of key stakeholders and their impact upon corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices in the…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to critically explore the interactions of key stakeholders and their impact upon corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices in the Zambian copper mining sector. In particular, the authors examine the power dynamics that emerge in the stakeholder interactions.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors analyse the stakeholder interactions based on the varying degrees of stakeholder salience and critical collaboration potential, and draw on rich evidence from 43 interviews with multiple stakeholders involved in CSR in the Zambia mining sector.

Findings

This paper finds stark power asymmetries in the relationship between the state, the civil society and mining companies which are exacerbated by a number of factors, including divisions within these key stakeholders themselves. Apart from power imbalances within and between stakeholders, the potential for critical collaboration at the local level is further challenged by the lack of commonly accepted social and environmental frameworks, transparency and accountability of the leadership of stakeholder groups. However, despite these power asymmetries some limited agency is possible, as civil society in particular co-opts previously dormant stakeholders to increase its own salience and, more importantly, that of the state.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to the literature on the key stakeholders’ interactions shaping CSR in developing countries by exploring these issues in a critical industry, the Zambian copper mining sector, on which the state economy is so heavily dependent.

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Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 32 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Book part
Publication date: 15 October 2018

Ann Fordham and Heather Haase

This chapter reviews the history of civil society engagement on drug policy at the UN. Despite the challenging beginnings characterised by small numbers of civil society

Abstract

This chapter reviews the history of civil society engagement on drug policy at the UN. Despite the challenging beginnings characterised by small numbers of civil society attendees at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, coupled with government mistrust, in the last two decades, civil society representatives have made visible progress in advocating for policy reform and changing the terms of the debate.

Efforts by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the lead up to, as well as during the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS), best illustrate this increase in impact and engagement. Reform-orientated civil society strategised heavily on how to bring ‘comprehensive, diverse, balanced, and inclusive’ representation to the UNGASS and achieved this through the Civil Society Task Force, which was carefully balanced in terms of geographic, gender and ideological diversity, and included nine representatives from affected populations, including people who use drugs, people in recovery from drug use disorders, families, youth, farmers of crops deemed illicit, harm reduction, prevention, access to controlled medicines and criminal justice.

The 2016 UNGASS saw the fruition of greater civil society engagement. Eleven speakers were chosen to speak in the forum showcasing the calibre and diversity of civil society representatives. They made powerful, at times poignant statements and pleas for better, more compassionate treatment of people who use drugs, farmers of crops deemed illicit, as well as respect for human rights, sustainable livelihoods and the need to approach the issue through a public health and human rights lens.

The chapter concludes with the finding that reform-orientated civil society had a significant impact on the UNGASS – both on the gains in the Outcome Document and at the actual event, while noting that the most impactful ways to influence has nonetheless been through reform advocacy efforts outside of the official civil society mechanisms. Civil society engagement remains a serious challenge. International solidarity and global networking remain a central part of the drug policy reform movement’s strategy to advocate for change at the national, regional and global levels.

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Collapse of the Global Order on Drugs: From UNGASS 2016 to Review 2019
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78756-488-6

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Book part
Publication date: 16 November 2009

Bernard Enjolras

The issue of citizens’ participation in civil society in Europe is perceived as crucial for the democratization and the legitimacy of the European Union (EU) as well as…

Abstract

The issue of citizens’ participation in civil society in Europe is perceived as crucial for the democratization and the legitimacy of the European Union (EU) as well as for the development of a European identity. There are at least three reasons for the increasing attention devoted to the role played by civil society in the European integration process (Rumford, 2003). Firstly, by providing knowledge and plural inputs in decision-making processes, civil society is a necessary component in efficient and “good” governance. Secondly, civil society demarcates the space for the enactment of citizenship rights and participation (the turn from formal citizenship to citizenship practice). This is essential since the notion of a European citizenship requires, in addition to a set of formal rights and obligations, a public space for active participation by the citizens beyond the arenas offered by the nation-state. Thirdly, civil society can serve as a source of legitimacy, possibly reducing the much-debated democratic deficit of the EU. The rather imprecise term “democratic deficit” encompasses issues such as the lack of democratic anchorage of EU institutions and decisions as well as the gap between policy-makers and citizens. Hence, the belief that to reduce the democratic deficit, the EU democratic institutions have to become more accountable to its citizen and that European citizens need to get a sense of “ownership” of the EU democratic institutions.

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Civil Society in Comparative Perspective
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-608-3

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Book part
Publication date: 6 July 2015

Simone Baglioni

This chapter examines the relations between local civil society organizations and the European Union as a way to assess the functioning of multi-level governance in the…

Abstract

Purpose

This chapter examines the relations between local civil society organizations and the European Union as a way to assess the functioning of multi-level governance in the field of employment policy.

Methodology/approach

The chapter draws on primary organizational survey data collected in the EU FP7 funded project entitled ‘Youth, Unemployment and Exclusion in Europe’ (Younex, grant agreement n.216111) and for the approach it places itself in the tradition of critical civil society–EU relations research.

Findings

For more than two decades, civil society has occupied a prominent position in the rhetoric of European Union multi-level governance. The EU rhetoric conceives of the inclusion of civil society in policy making as a necessary step towards linking the various levels of government (from local to European) as well as the different societal and institutional actors implied by a multilevel governance approach. Moreover, the rhetoric of civil society also serves the goal of tackling the multi-faceted issues of a democratic ‘deficitaire’ EU. This chapter, however, offers a critical appraisal of such a rhetoric by confirming what other studies had unveiled: access to European institutions requires substantial human (‘capital in knowledge’) and economic resources and as such the link existing between the European Union and local civil society organizations is a very thin one, one which is limited to a very few, rich in resources, organizations. The rhetoric of civil society as the connector of levels and types of actors in the multi-level governance approach promoted by the EU should thus be mitigated. The European policy process should be conceived of more pragmatically as an arena where European institutions and member states still act as gate keepers that select and decide which societal interest and voice should have a place within the European agenda. What consequences this has for the overall democratic quality of the European policy process is an issue which should concern us all.

Research implications

The chapter allows scrutinizing horizontal and vertical dimensions of multi-level governance while expanding knowledge on civil society at both local and European level. Although multi-level governance has become a popular concept it still lacks a consistent empirical assessment, which is something the data discussed here do. Thus, the chapter has implications for research on civil society and citizens’ engagement in public affairs but it is also relevant for scholars working on EU policy-making issues.

Practical implications

Civil society organizations could contribute improving the quality of policies at European level as well as strengthening EU legitimacy to rule. The findings contribute explaining which factors limit civil society access to EU institutions and how these could be overcome.

Societal implications

The chapter corroborates critical views of the EU–civil society relations, the findings suggest that the EU should work with further commitment to offer local civil society organizations and citizens groups real opportunities for their voices and expertise to be heard and considered.

Originality/value

The chapter adopts a critical view of EU–civil society relations challenging the EU multi-level governance rhetoric and discusses the features obstructing civil society actors’ engagement with policy making at the EU level.

Details

Multi-Level Governance: The Missing Linkages
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-874-8

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Book part
Publication date: 18 February 2013

Maria Alejandra Gonzalez-Perez

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…

Abstract

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.

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International Business, Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78190-625-5

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Article
Publication date: 1 August 2001

Stephen D. McDowell and Philip E. Steinberg

Explores a number of the debates and justification used to support and advance non‐state governance of the Internet in the USA. Reviews public reports released leading up…

Abstract

Explores a number of the debates and justification used to support and advance non‐state governance of the Internet in the USA. Reviews public reports released leading up to the formation of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Concludes that the scope herein is restricted to the jurisdictions and reasoning stated in the policy papers leading to the formation of the ICANN.

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info, vol. 3 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-6697

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International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 12 no. 4/5/6/7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

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Book part
Publication date: 16 November 2009

Chris Miller, Joanna Howard, Antoaneta Mateeva, Rumen Petrov, Luis Serra and Marilyn Taylor

In the United Kingdom and elsewhere, the move from government to governance has been well documented (Stoker, 1998; Rhodes, 1996, 1997). In the global North, governance is…

Abstract

In the United Kingdom and elsewhere, the move from government to governance has been well documented (Stoker, 1998; Rhodes, 1996, 1997). In the global North, governance is understood as a response to complexity and a recognition that many problems cannot be solved by government alone, whereas in democracies across the North and South, there is a concern to address the democratic deficit and [re]legitimize the state. In both contexts, new governance spaces and opportunities have emerged for non-governmental actors to engage in the process. Interest in community or “third sector” participation has spread around the globe, albeit with very different expressions in different contexts, and in many cases at the insistence of international financial institutions. Deacon (2007, p. 15) describes such global trends as “the contested terrain of emerging global governance” in which he includes both international non-governmental organizations and transnational social movements. Although this shift represents new opportunities, the extent to which the spaces for participation offer a new vision of the public domain is contested (Fung & Wright, 2003; Cornwall & Coelho, 2007).

Details

Civil Society in Comparative Perspective
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-608-3

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