Hivos International

Civil Society

Examples, mainly from the United States, show that public work can be an effective and practical way of expanding civic agency and engaging with political systems. Theses experiences are applied to defining and pursuing forms of democracy that are ‘developmental’ in that they build citizen capability to act against creeping technocracy and party-based politics that disempower.

With a graphic case of gender empowerment from India, this essay focuses attention on the way in which the opportunities for and risks of civic agency can be (mal) distributed across development actors. It shows the assessment of risk as a critical but oft ignored feature of donor thinking and practice with consequences that run counter to the social justice agendas they espouse.

Outsiders promote civic driven change in ways that implicitly assume and try to create a preferred relationship between personal and public rights and responsibilities. Drawing on cases from Hungary, this essay critically debates the role of external agencies and their political projects in defining and steering civic agency in other countries.

Information, communication and the mass media often exert a significant influence on how citizenship and civic agency are appreciated and driven. With illustrations from Latin America the essay looks at these influences between development and transformative change and highlights a missing component of accountability. A strong argument is made for monitoring the communications strategy and content of aid agencies.

Values are a significant feature of civic driven change. This essay explores the role of religion in shaping the moral norms that guide people’s behaviour towards citizenship, politics and authority. With Kenya as an example, the notion of a rigorous divide between secular and spiritual groundings of civic agency is questioned.

By Evelina Dagnino

Civic driven change requires clarity about the meaning of terms. Experiences from Brazil detailed in this essay illustrate how the same language can hide contrary understandings and interpretations that stem from different political projects that drive society. The critical appraisal of words and their use sets a guide for other essays.

This essay introduces important concepts and provides the reader with information about the motivations, methods and substantive content of this volume. It concludes with an overview of what civic driven change mean from the perspective of the authors and details areas where important differences of view were identified.

This study investigates social innovation in by defining and applying test criteria. Social innovation can be directed at causes or symptoms. We therefore need some idea of why societies’ problems are ‘thickening’. This insight will help judge social innovation as a solution-response from within the social ecology.

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Did Zimbabwean women’s organising constitute a women’s movement during the years 1995 – 2000? In a fascinating account of a significant period of women’s collective organising, Shereen Essof’s response to this question is positive. As a feminist scholar she interrogates the period during which she was a more than full-time woman activist out and about in Zimbabwe. Inspired by the vision of feminism and social justice she was part of a collectivity of women who were mobilizing and engaging women throughout Zimbabwe.