Civil Society in the Age of Crisis, Journal of Civil Society, 7(3), 241-263 September 2011, John Clark (2011)

Three crises dominate today’s globalized political landscape: trans-national terrorism, financial crisis, and climate change. Collectively, these crises have hurt civil society organizations and constricted their political space. Rights of association and to state information (the foundations of civic engagement) have been eroded in the name of ‘state security’; and their support base and financial viability have declined. While not a death knell for civil society, it is important to understand how these new threats arose, how they relate to and synergize with each other, and how they balance new opportunities. Whereas the diversity of views found in the ‘antiglobalization movement’ appeared to have advantages at the turn of the millennium (caricatured by the slogan that the movement espoused ‘One big “NO!” and many small “YESSES”’), today this appears more as a weakness—suggesting a lack of clarity, focus, and credibility. Yet, thanks to new technology and the growing con?dence of civil society leadership in poorer countries, we are seeing the emergence of a new energy in civil society that focuses more on the processes of government than on its substance and which shows signs of transforming civic engagement and enhancing state accountability to citizens. Reproduced by permission of the Journal of Civil Society.

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