[P5107] Civil Society and Governance in the Middle East
Created by Gizem Zencirci
Sunday, 11/18/18 1:30pm
SUMMARY:Although civil society has not lost its popularity in academic and policy circles, its once presumed democratizing capacity has been fiercely criticized since its heyday in the immediate post-Cold War era. In fact, recent scholarship on civil society in the Middle East has moved away from analyzing the basic question of whether, and if so how NGOs contribute to democratization, and have instead begun to analyze how civil society organizations impact the governance of society and economy. This literature suggests that civic organizations have a wide range of political consequences: they might legitimate authoritarian or semi-authoritarian regimes; act as a part of corporate and clientelistic networks; provide social services; and serve as a venue for activism, protest and community-building. This means that there have been new and diverse forms of civic engagement and political-economic governance in the region. Hence, mobilization and activism may not necessarily be directed towards democratization, but may well include shifts in national regimes of governance. This panel is an attempt to understand the dynamics of activism, mobilization and governance in the region. Some major questions that will be addressed include: How do NGOs govern social policy? How do they resist and adopt global norms such as accountability, transparency and autonomy? What are their social, political and economic demands? What are the different ways in which NGOs conceptualize and practice activism, protest and participation? The role of states and international organizations vis-à-vis civil society organizations will also be examined. What are the ways in which public institutions and the global aid industry shape and are shaped by new forms of governance introduced by private actors?