Global Civil Societies

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There has been a great deal of expansion and formation of new civil societies around the globe. This has particularly come about due to the process of globalization and the expansion of democratic governance, telecommunications and economic integration, in addition, as well as the threat to security. The term is seen as a progressive process particularly because many claim that global civil society is committed to the values of human rights, gender equality, social justice and democracy. On the whole global civil societies are those organizations that operate in the international realm that share the purpose of correcting the world social order, bringing about harmony and dealing with issues that affect human freedom and human equality, in other words these global civil societies are concerned about creating a better world through advocating a fairer, freer and a more just global order. Just to name a few, organizations such as the World Trade Organization, Amnesty International, Greenpeace and Human Rights Watch. Thus the following essay shall critically review the different definitions of Global Civil Societies and look at what are global civil societies are and its purpose as well as share light on criticisms of global civil societies. Although the idea of global civil society fits well with the notion of creating a just global world, there are definitions that are highly contested and argued against. In order for us to understand the concept of global civil societies, one needs to understand the term civil societies. Therefore the following paragraph shall put light on the meaning and nature of civil society. Civil society is seen as a social sphere independent of the state and the market (Thorn and Moksnes. 2012:5). It is understood as the collection of non-state, non-profit, voluntary organization formed by people within a state. These organizations seek to influence the policy of government and international organizations and to complement government services. Traditionally civil society includes networks, associations, groups, movements that occupy the social space between the family and the state. Yet there have been various changes to the definition of civil society, which will later be seen as a challenge to the term global civil society. Mary Kaldor, in her article The idea of Global Civil Society, elaborates on the concept of civil society and how it becomes global civil society. She explains, civil society is a modern concept, which can be traced back to Aristotle and other modern thinkers, who came to believe that there was no distinction between civil society and the state (Kaldor. 2003:584). Thus civil society at this time was seen as a type of state that was characterised by a social contract (Kaldor. 2003:584). However in the nineteenth century the concept of civil society took on a whole new meaning, it was now seen as dependent of the state. It now becomes to be seen as the intermediate realm between the family and the state (Kaldor. 2003:584). For Hegel, civil society was the ‘achievement of the modern world-the territory of mediation where there is a free play for every idiosyncrasy, every talent, every accident of birth and fortune and where waves of passion gust forth, regulated only by reason glinting through them’ (John. 1999:3), thus to Hegel, civil societies included the economy and its history (Hegel. 1996). Yet in the early twentieth century, civil society adopted a new definition, it came to be understood as the realm not just between the state and the family, yet the realm between culture, ideology, political debate, the state and the family (Kaldor. 2003:585). One aspect that is associated with the concept of civil society is the relationship it shares with socialism and democracy, in other words it recognizes the sociological underpinnings of modern democracy (Khilnami. 2001:16). Thus, one can understand that civil societies were about a rule-governed society based on the consent of...
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