Today, civil societies exist in a world context of profound contradictions. People are increasingly interconnected across cyber space so that their personal space extends out to the world1 and their contacts at a distance can be multiplied in an exponential manner. At the same time, people are increasingly separated across physical space so that they lose close and direct personal relations in favor of media-mediated contacts. Consequently, their perspectives on events, and with it the capacity to act together at the level of their territorial communities, is decreasing. Yet, even today, when people are engaged in common endeavors, in too many countries around the world, civil society is still under siege. From the People’s Republic of China to Turkey, from Burma to Zimbabwe, from Venezuela to Russia, civil society in its organized expressions and efforts is perceived as a threat by the governments, which attempt to control and even retaliate to muzzle its presence and voice. The arrest of leaders of associations, the closure of independent media, the harassment of members protesting in public, and the discrimination against activists in education and employment are some of the measures taken by such governments to stifle the discussion of controversial issues out into the open. In extreme cases, action against the public airing of issues goes as far as extreme measures of internment in labor camps, torture, and imprisonment.
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Raffaella Y. Nanetti
- Palgrave Macmillan US
- Chapter 1
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