Civil Society in International Development – Research and Practice
Over the past decades, civil society has become increasingly important to socio-economic development and in political mobilisation, perhaps especially so in developing countries. This is partly an effect of neoliberal reforms that have decreased areas of state responsibility in economic as well as political issues, which has left space not only to private actors but also to non-governmental organisations. Furthermore, the democracy reforms of the last decades and the increased focus on human rights have strengthened the political agency of civil movements and organisations, which often have turned into driving critics of precisely the lack of democracy in governance, often through extensive networks across national borders. Many are the hopes that the vitalisation of civil society will strengthen societal development in a democratic direction, with increased popular participation.
Creating arenas for mutual exchange of competence, this project aimed to strengthen both the Swedish research front on civil society in developing countries, as well as research-based knowledge about civil society among Swedish actors within international development cooperation. Project leaders were Mia Melin and Heidi Moksnes.
The proceedings of the four annual conferences organized within the project were published in the publication series Outlook on CIvil Society. The volumes, as well as the individual articles, can be downloaded without cost (go to the link):
Power to the People? (Con-)Tested Civil society in Search of Democracy (2010)
Global Civil Society: Shifting Powers in a Shifting World (2012)
Faith in Civil Society: Religious Actors as Drivers of Change (2013)
Claiming the City: Civil Society Mobilisation by the Urban Poor (2014)
Video-recordings of the plenary presentations at the last conference, Claiming the City in 2013, is found at http://www.youtube.com/user/CSDUppsala