chapter  6
21 Pages

NGOs and ‘civil society’

During the last two decades, the political concept of ‘civil society’ has come to form part of the language of development. Civil society is usually taken to mean a realm or space in which there exists a set of organizational actors which are not a part of the household, the state or the market. These organizations form a wide-ranging group which include associations, people’s movements, citizens’ groups, consumer associations, small producer associations, women’s organizations, indigenous peoples’ organizations – and of course NGOs. Since this array of organizations and associations is public without being official, civil society advocates argue that it enables citizens to debate and take action around public issues without overt direction by the state. For example, Box 6.1 highlights the case of the Rotary Club, a form of business association which undertakes development and relief work.