Skip to main content

Über dieses Buch

Activists and academics look back over ten years of 'politics from below', and ask whether it is merely the critical gaze upon the concept that has changed – or whether there is something genuinely new about the way in which civil society is now operating.



Looking Back, Thinking Forward


Chapter 1. The Global Civil Society Yearbook: Lessons and Insights 2001–2011

Tony Judt’s book, Ill Fares the Land (2010), and a pamphlet by Stéphane Hessel entitled Indignez-Vous!, or ‘Time for Outrage’ (see Box 1.2) have been circulating among the European protestors of 2011. Both are passionate pleas for indignation against the overwhelmingly ideology of free markets and greed. Both are appeals to the young from older people close to their end — Judt knew he was dying when he wrote the book and Hessel, a hero of the French Resistance, is in his nineties. And both books are, perhaps not surprisingly, nostalgic, reinforcing Marx’s argument that when people try to change their circumstances they dress up in the clothes of the past; both yearn for a time in the post-war period, when people believed in universal welfare and in the possibility of a benign state guiding a creative market — the Social Democratic vision.

Chapter 2. ‘Global Civil Society’ and the Internet 2012: Time to Update Our Perspective

To date, there are around 2 billion people using the internet (see Chapter 5 this volume, Figure 5.1). The 750 million active users of the social network site Facebook share more than 30 billion pieces of content each month (Facebook Statistics 2011). Each minute more than 48 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube (YouTube Blog 2011) and 3,000 new pictures are shared on Flickr, which in September 2010 had a stock of 5 billion images (Flickr Blog 2010). Each day around 200 million 140-character-messages are sent via Twitter; this is the equivalent of a 10-million-page book per day, or 8,163 copies of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace (Twitter Blog 2011). Social media services, such as Twitter, have not only become an integral part of people’s daily lives, but these days also guide military strategies, such as the NATO strikes in Libya (Norton-Taylor and Hopkins 2011), and play a considerable role in contemporary mass activism (see Chapter 3 this volume).

Democracy and Citizenship


Chapter 3. The Arab Awakening: The Crisis of Dictatorship and Civil Society

In the middle of March 2011, Saudi and Emirati troops invaded Bahrain to stop the movement begun several weeks before in the small Gulf kingdom. The rallying point of the pro-democracy demonstrators, the magnificent Pearl Monument, was toppled down; King Hamad Bin Isa al-Khalifa considered that the white pearl, standing on its six sail-shaped cement pillars, had been ‘dishonoured’ by the demonstrations.

Chapter 4. ‘Lost in Transformation’: The Crisis of Democracy and Civil Society

In turbulent times often repeated clichés and conventional wisdoms easily become outdated and quickly forgotten. This has happened to the ‘end of history’ thesis, popular in the early 1990s. Today we not only know that history is not over, but that we are rather seriously challenged by the rapid and constant changes produced by the new course of history in the post-1989 world.

Chapter 5. Passionate Publics in Mediated Civil Society

New technology is making public communication and deliberation ubiquitous to an extent not previously imagined. Information technology is strategically used to gain access and to inform populations in NGO and activist programmes and in political struggles for information power and domination, as well as in personal, social networking. This has been discussed at length in previous issues of the Global Civil Society yearbook, from John Naughton’s study of the contested space of the internet in the first yearbook (2001: 147–68) to Sabine Selchow’s analysis of our framing of the notion of the internet, in this volume (see Chapter 2). In this chapter I attempt to add to this body of work with an examination of the role that passion plays amidst the technology. I describe how mediated civil society is being infused by the passionate and private voices of citizen journalists, thereby challenging the public and private binary so often invoked as fundamental to the structure of society.

Peace and Justice


Chapter 6. A Decade of the War on Terror and the ‘Responsibility to Protect’

In 2001, before 9/11, it seemed as though the world was moving inexorably towards a new humanitarian norm of military intervention in cases of massive human suffering and, in particular, genocide, ethnic cleansing and large-scale human rights violations. Several reports were published in 2000–01 that strengthened the case for humanitarian intervention. The Independent International Commission on Kosovo concluded in 2000 that the NATO intervention in Yugoslavia aimed at preventing the ethnic cleansing of Albanians was ‘illegal but legitimate’ and that there was a need to take measures to close the gap between legality and legitimacy (IICK 2000). The same year the Report of the United Nations Panel on Peace Operations (UNSC 2000), also known as the Brahimi Report, put forward practical proposals to improve the capacity of the UN to respond to crises. And in 2001, the International Commission on Intervention and States Sovereignty (ICISS) came up with the concept of ‘Responsibility to Protect’ (R2P) — the idea that the international community has a responsibility to protect civilians where their own states fail to do so (ICISS 2001).

Chapter 7. Pro-Roma Global Civil Society: Acting for, with or Instead of Roma?

Over the past two decades, in the wake of post-communist transition, the emergence of Romani activism has been an important development accompanying political changes in Central and Eastern Europe. Alongside the emergence of Romani associations, international NGOs have been increasingly involved in the struggle against the discrimination of Roma. A special microcosm has developed within global civil society that is specialised in the so-called ‘Roma issue’, comprising non-governmental and inter-governmental organisations, expert bodies, foundations, activists and politicians.

Chapter 8. Civil Society and Cluster Munitions: Building Blocks of a Global Campaign

The international process to ban cluster munitions, often referred to as the ‘Oslo Process’ after the city in which it was launched, is an example of a diplomatic initiative in which civil society played a highly involved role. States remained the ultimate decision-makers, with a Norwegian-led core group of seven states launching the process in Oslo in February 2007, and 108 states signing the Convention on Cluster Munitions in the same city in December 2008. However, civil society, organised under the banner of the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC), was able to influence many of the decisions along the way, both at the national level and within international negotiations. The entire process, from the formation of the CMC to the signing of the Convention, took little more than five years; it has arguably been one of the most successful civil society campaigns of the past decade.

Economy and Society


Chapter 9. Global Civil Society and the Rise of the Civil Economy

Ten years is a long time in economics. The decade opened with the Nasdaq crash and finished with a world financial crisis, which hit first the banks, then national governments, and is now calling at the doors of the international financial institutions. The world’s mass production continued its move to the East, with the result that by the end of the decade China alone had doubled its share of world GDP (gross domestic product — from 7 per cent to 13 per cent in relative purchasing power) and had become the world’s largest manufacturer, its largest exporter and, by 2011, its second largest economy. That growth has darkened further another shadow: climate change. The past decade has witnessed the highest average temperatures on record, with the Arctic ice cap melting to an all-time low.

Chapter 10. A Decade of World Social Forums: Internationalisation without Institutionalisation?

The World Social Forum (WSF) celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2011. Each year between 2001 and 2007 and every couple of years since, this alter-globalisation gathering has drawn up to 170,000 activists from all over the world. In spite of its size, very international nature and numerous logistical challenges, the WSF has not become a tamed and institutionalised place. Indeed, recent meetings were far less institutionalised than their predecessors between 2001 and 2003.



Chapter 11. Bordering on the Unknown: Approaches to Global Civil Society Data

The Global Civil Society yearbook programme has always involved efforts to collate and collect data that might inform our understanding of this complex phenomenon. In addition to the empirical evidence used by chapter authors, we have included sections of quantitative data in most editions. These have been compiled from a number of sources and presented in various formats, following a conceptual framework devised by Helmut Anheier (Anheier 2001).

Chronology of Global Civil Society Events

A Yearbook Retrospective

An alternative record of global civil society has been included in each yearbook in the form of a Chronology of Events. These chronologies have provided an opportunity to document in qualitative terms the diversity of civil society activity taking place globally, including events such as vigils, social forums, marches, legal challenges, rallies and petitions, as well as particular victories and defeats. These have been defined as global civil society events if they have significance beyond national borders in terms of participants, theme or resonance. Unlike many end-of-year reviews, we attempt to record events that often go unreported in mainstream media due to their location or form. We also record events that can be difficult to include in statistics on the growth of civil society activity and organisation, again because of their form or as they are rarely recorded formally. Therefore, as described in Chapter 11, these chronologies have complemented the other records of the Data Programme, and have only been possible by drawing on the interactive nature of the project.


Weitere Informationen

Premium Partner