chapter  11
36 Pages

Civic associations, empowerment and democratization

Arab civil society in Israel
ByAmal Jamal

This paper argues that minority groups, especially homeland minorities, utilize all means to empower their citizenship and influence the political order in which they live. Civic associationalism forms one of the major modes of minority collective action, seeking to empower society and democratize the state. Civic associations are established voluntarily and are based on the understanding that citizens are better engage in associating and communicating in order to determine their future, despite the fact that they cannot guarantee a clear correspondence between intentions and results. Civic associations are motivated by various social, economic and political needs and interests and seek interacting and transforming their political surroundings in order to correspond with their needs and interests. Civic associations seek enriching public life and answering material and symbolic needs of their society, challenging any state bias. When there is a lack of one given agreed collective design, minority civic associations become gradually loaded with goals and ideals that strive to influence their social and political surrounding. Hence, despite the fact that civil society should not be conflated with political society, in the case of minority civic association it is the challenging of the hegemonic political order that provides the raison d’être of minority civil society.