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Is there an International or Global Civil Society?

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Introduction

Is there an International or Global Civil Society? There are many different aspects that the essay title covers, all of which need to be addressed individually so that a coherent conclusion can be constructed. It is for this reason that the essay will be dissected into various sections, each covering a particular area of concern. The first of the sections, most predictably, will be discovering not what a global civil society is, but what a civil society is itself. There is much debate over the term 'civil society' so a clear definition is needed before addressing what a global civil society is and what differences there are between the two. Before approaching the subject of defining what a civil society is perhaps it would be a good idea to begin with a brief definition of what a global civil society is. This will help illuminate any key differences and similarities between the two. The below quote is taken from John Keane's article 'Global Civil Society?' from Global Civil Society 2001. "Global civil society is a vast, interconnected, and multi-layered social space that comprises many hundreds of thousands of self-directing or non-governmental institutions and ways of life." (Global Civil Society?; John Keane; Global Civil Society 2001; Oxford University Press; 2001 (pp 24)) Hopefully this brief characterisation of what global civil society is will help make sense of this first part of this essay, which is chiefly concerned with defining civil society. It seems that the concept of a civil society has existed for a very long time indeed. The term has links dating back to Romans and Greeks who had a similar term that was 'politike koinona,' by which they meant a politically based society, where the citizens of this society would shape the policies and institutions that would govern the society as a whole.1 This type of society was based upon public interest and not private interest, the laws created being done so by the citizens of that particular society. ...read more.

Middle

The text book above also suggests that 'global civil society is best categorised not in terms of types of actors but in terms of positions in relation to globalisation.'7 The text then divides these positions in relation to globalisation into 4 distinct types: * Supporters * Rejectionists * Reformists * Alternatives The four distinct views on globalisation further the concept of a global civil society in each ones individual approach to the concept of globalisation. The first, obviously, support globalisation and therefore look to sustain a global civil society. The Rejectionists oppose the concept and therefore are not so keen on the idea of a global civil society. Reformists aim to 'civilise'8 globalisation but agree with a civil society with respect to enforcing international human rights. Alternatives want to opt out of the process of globalisation, but still favour civil society intervention. There is a confusing issue here, that being that we cannot be sure whether or not support of a civil society will breed a support of a global civil society. This, it would appear, would not be apparent at this time. Drawing the topic of globalisation to a close in this essay is a quote from the same text that gives us insight into understanding whether or not there can truly be a global civil society: "One way of defining or understanding global civil society is as a debate about the future direction of globalisation and perhaps humankind itself." (Global Civil Society 2001; H. Anheier, M. Glasius, M. Kaldor; Oxford University Press; 2001; pp10) It is now time to move on to yet another important section of the essay, one that is inherently linked to the process of a global civil society, that being both the U.N and the E.U. For a civil society to work there has to communication between citizens of that society, therefore in a global civil society there must also be communication between the citizens of the nations within the global community. ...read more.

Conclusion

News from around the world is beamed to us live, a telephone call can connect you to someone thousands of miles away, a plane can get you across international borders in hours; minutes even. The quote below really sums up how the two concepts are inherently linked to one another. "Both (global civil society & globalisation) are just processes. If formal democracy remains confined to the level of the state, while various economic, political, and cultural activities are indeed going global, then only a global civil society can call them to account." (Global Civil Society 2001; H. Anheier, M. Glasius, M. Kaldor; Oxford University Press; 2001; (pp9) ) So, is there an international or global civil society? The debate will continue to go on, just as the concept will develop itself. Civil society is an established concept already, which took many years to form and evolve into what we see it as now. Global civil society is a relatively new concept, just as globalisation is. It is undeniable that there is some form of global civil society in existence at the moment, as the quote above clearly corroborates. The concept, as of yet, is not universally accepted, just as the concept of globalisation is not universally agreed upon. What is clear is that there is a global civil society and it will continue to develop so long as the process of globalisation continues. 1Global Civil Society 2001; H. Anheier, M. Glasius, M. Kaldor; Oxford University Press; 2001; pp12 2 http://www.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/CSGR/wpapers/wp3199.PDF (pp 2) 3 http://www.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/CSGR/wpapers/wp3199.PDF (pp 3) 4 Global Civil Society 2001; H. Anheier, M. Glasius, M. Kaldor; Oxford University Press; 2001 5 Global Civil Society 2001; H. Anheier, M. Glasius, M. Kaldor; Oxford University Press; 2001; pp7 6 http://www.imf.org/external/np/exr/ib/2000/041200.htm#II 7 Global Civil Society 2001; H. Anheier, M. Glasius, M. Kaldor; Oxford University Press; 2001; pp7 8 Global Civil Society 2001; H. Anheier, M. Glasius, M. Kaldor; Oxford University Press; 2001; pp7 9 Global Civil Society 2001; H. Anheier, M. Glasius, M. Kaldor; Oxford University Press; 2001; pp9 1 ...read more.

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