Promoting democracy through the citizens: civil society, micro- assistance to democracy, sustainability
Introduction This chapter provides a literature review organized thematically. Its aim is to outline the theoretical context for the remainder of the book, by focusing primarily on three concepts: civil society, micro-assistance to democracy, and sustainability. The following sections discuss the most relevant academic literature concerning the role of civil society in democratization. The central section looks at the academic debate on the interaction between domestic and international factors affecting democratization processes, devoting particular attention to civil society actors, both in terms of their domestic democratizing potential and their international linkages. Finally, the last section outlines the characteristics of micro-assistancetodemocracy:whatitisandhowitfitswithinthegeneralpolicies of democracy promotion. This section also discusses the limits of a notion ofsustainabilitythatonlyregardsfinancialresourcesandintroducessomeadditional dimensions of sustainability, namely community participation, horizontal networks,andinfluenceonlocalgovernment. These three elements – civil society, micro-assistance to democracy, and sustainability – represent the theoretical backbone of this book. Chapter 3 will then focus on the European Union’s policies of democracy promotion and Chapter 4 will discuss the process of democratization in South Africa. Finally, Chapters 5 will bring all these elements together by analysing the EU’s policies of democracypromotioninSouthAfricaduringthefirsttenyearsofdemocracy,while Chapters 6 and 7 will focus on the programme of micro-assistance to democracy involving grassroots civil society organizations.