ABSTRACT

Pierobon’s chapter on the debate on civil society and its implications for the MENA region familiarizes the reader with the theoretical framework on which the following chapters are grounded. More precisely, the section introduces the theoretical debate surrounding the concept of civil society, looking at its ancient as well as modern (liberal) interpretation together with alternative versions - communal, state-led, and global - that can be found especially when dealing with the non-Western context. In addition, the chapter explores the concrete contribution of civil society actors to peace-building, development, and change by taking into account the variety of roles and functions they can fulfil according to the literature available. Finally, the last part of the section is concerned with the extent to which civil society definitions and theorizations apply to the MENA countries, providing a general overview of the dynamics affecting civil society in the region that will then be analyzed in more detail in the following chapters.