Hivos International

Civil Society

This working paper outlines the current theoretical debate about civil society and democratisation and examines how such general debates have informed studies of civil society in the Arab world. It analyses in depth the case of Morocco, where civil society activism has greatly increased in the course of the last decade, coinciding mainly with the arrival to power of King Mohammed VI. More specifically, this study examines three areas of civil activism in the Kingdom: women’s rights and the 2004 reform of the family Code; human rights and specifically the rights of political prisoners in the aftermath of the Casablanca bombings; the developmental issues related to the National Initiative for Human Development.

This publication is part of the working paper series of the Knowledge Programme Civil Society in West Asia. 

Working paper 3 discusses Civil Society en Democratization in Yemen. One part describes and analyzes the persistence in Yemen of what could be called a traditional civil society comprising of tribal and religious actors, who traditional as they may be, are also engaged in modernization processes. The second section will highlight the emergence of more modern actors since unification who, often benefiting from foreign support, are developing a new agenda and, in their own way, are responding to a specific framing of issues (development, Human rights, gender) produced internationally. Finally, the focus will shift to the different challenges and prospects facing the various civil society actors and how these often limit their capacity to take an active part in the democratization process.

This publication is part of the working paper series of the Knowledge Programme Civil Society in West Asia.

Many articles have been written on democratization. The focus often lies on the ‘pluralist’ notion, in which civil society is believed to be the most important stimulus for democratization. Much less, though increasing, attention is paid to the ‘critical’ notion, in which political society is considered to be the main driver of democratic reform. Recently however, scholars have come to understand that both notions, in which concepts are studied isolated, fall short in explaining democratic transition. Following that insight, researchers have begun to focus on the link between civil and political society within the democratization process. The relation between both concepts is the core of the ‘hybrid’ notion.

This publication studies how the relationship between the state and the business community in Morocco has changed over the past two decades. Recent scholarship by social scientists on political change in the Middle East and North Africa has mostly focused on civil society. Relatively less attention has been paid to the role of business associations.

This paper provides an analysis of the state of civil society and democratization in Jordan. It analyzes the nature of the governing system and its institutions, examines the state of democracy in the kingdom, the nature of the regime and the ruling elite (including key ethnic components), the status of economic liberalization, the role of religion in political life, the nature of political opposition and the question of deliberalization.

This publication is part of the working paper series of the Knowledge Programme Civil Society in West Asia.

This paper focuses on those countries in Eastern Europe and South America where civil society emerged as a cause celebre in the successful transition to democracy: Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland, Argentina, Brazil and Chile.It offers a theoretical analysis of precisely how civil society was conceptualized by its protagonists in their pre-democratic contexts by studying their writings from the pre-democratic period. The latter have been largely ignored in later narratives which chart a linear progression from brave western-oriented dissidents to mass mobilization to liberal democracy. Studying the original documents may provide new clues as to how these ‘dissidents’, for want of a better word, saw the nature of the regime, how they conceptualized civil society and the sources of its power, and what exactly their democratic aspirations where.

What we see in global civil society depends on what value lens we use to define it. The trend towards networked organisation may have emancipatory effects, but may also obscure inequalities and clashing values. Working Paper 14 systematically describes the different expectations people have of global civil society. Each of us, Marlies Glasius suggests, carries a slightly different picture of the concept in our head. She describes the different normative connotations, normative ideal types, the new actors (or not so new actors) and the trends in global civil society.

This publication is part of the working paper series of the Knowledge Programme Civil Society in West Asia.

Literature on democratization rarely gives attention to the ‘big picture’. More often, scholars select one (or a few) key factors which are supposedly essential for democratization to take place or for a democracy to maintain its vibrancy.As a result, many blank spots within research on democratization remain existent.

This paper goes beyond such approaches. Democratization is a highly complex matter. A holistic framework is needed and, therefore, within this paper the concepts of democracy, democratization, and democracy promotion/assistance will be dealt with in relation to each other. The main goal is to reveal those factors that are most relevant considering prospects for democratization in general - that is, those factors that have a strong positive or negative influences on the realization of democratization.These factors are inserted into a model, which can be used as a toolbox in order to analyze prospects for democratization in specific cases.

This publication is part of the working paper series of the Knowledge Programme Civil Society in West Asia.

In this Working Paper on the state of civil society in Iran, Sohrab Razzaghi makes a number of claims and offers recommendations for bolstering independent civil society in Iran. Two of the most thought-provoking points concern the role of the UN in propping up state-sponsored and dependent civil society as opposed to independent civil society and the influx of former political insiders into independent civil society. Razzaghi writes: At present, and for the first time, an opposition has emerged from within the regime which none of the suppressive measures are able to drive into the margins. This opposition is getting increasingly stronger and has created splits among Iranian society, the clerical establishment, the government, and the people.

This publication is part of the working paper series of the Knowledge Programme Civil Society in West Asia.

This paper assesses the so-called ‘first lady phenomenon’ in (semi) authoritarian context. More specifically it discusses to what extent organizations in which Queen Rania is involved affect the development of a truly independent organizational life in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Queen Rania Al Abdullah is known for her extensive list of public activities. She is founder of several Jordanian organizations, ‘NGOs’ in the Kingdom’s terminology, as well as an active lobbyist and member of several large international organizations. However, one has only to consider the fact that the Hashemite dynasty by no means has a purely ceremonial function like other royal families have. The Jordanian royal family is in fact not that different from the ‘Jordanian regime’, which makes the first lady phenomenon ambiguous at least.