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Global Civil Society: The Undefined Heroes and Their Contributions

Global Civil Society: The Undefined Heroes and Their Contributions

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My mid-term make-up test.
My mid-term make-up test.

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Published by: Andhyta Firselly Utami on Jun 03, 2011
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Transnational Society ± Take Home Mid-term Test (2011)
 Name : Andhyta Firselly UtamiDepartment /NPM : International Relations / 0906550373Resource : Rupert Taylor, ³Interpreting Global Civil Society´ in Voluntas:International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations Vol.13, No.4 (December 2002), pp. 339-346Question : ³What are the strengths, weaknesses, limitations, and opportunities of global civil society?´
Global Civil Society: The Undefined Heroes and Their Contributions
Despite the existence of µglobal civil society¶ term for decades, Rupert Taylor still believes thatthere is a quite long to-do-list faced by international relations academia in this area. In ³Interpreting GlobalCivil Society´, he mentions the importance of clear description as well as adequate theorization towards thisconcept. This idea is also upheld by Martin Shaw and Mary Kaldor who state that a division of factual andnormative senses is impossible
1
since the core concern lies on aspects of the same relationships.
2
The globalcivil society, hence, requires to be perceived as a progressive
multiorganization
field with innovativenetwork forms and transformative purpose in the future. This review is going to further elaborate how suchcondition constitutes certain strengths, weaknesses, limitations, and opportunities for the discussed topic,concluded with the challenges that need to be encountered.Between scholars, mass media, and amongst a broader public, the phrase µglobal civil society¶ has been very commonly used. However, as quoted from Waterman, ³the provenance of the term is apparentlynot well grounded and has not yet passed through the forge of theoretical clarification or the sieve of publicdebate´. Martin Shaw also argues that the conceptualization of global civil society is not ³the novelty itmight appear at first glance´ but rather the known national sociology frameworks that are brought to theinternational level.
3
One of several available dubious meanings, proposed by Anheieris as ³the sphere of ideas, values, institutions, organizations, networks, and individuals located between the family, the state, andthe market and operating
beyond 
the confines of national societies, polities, and economies´ is consideredtoo wide and is going to include almost a universe of players that are not necessarily tied to progress a better world. The yet-to-be-agreed most accepted definition, on the contrary, belongs to µnon-governmentalorganizations (NGOs) or social movements, of all shapes and sizes, operating in the international realm¶.
4
 This is actually a rather too shallow designation for all intricate actors behind the term and therefore, is verydebatable and may lead to several circumstances.First, such loose explanation benefits the µglobal civil society¶²although we have not reallyreached an agreement on who they are²in boundlessly involving crucial stakeholders. This is one of theforemost strengths of global civil society, both in the form of organizations and movements, since they haveno tight borders in creating wide, global networks. Such privilege is not possessed by the states because theyhave to bump into the gate of µsovereignty¶ and µbureaucracy¶ before establishing any form of cooperation.
1
Mary Kaldor, ³The Idea of Global Civil Society´ in
 I 
nternational Affairs, 79,
Vol.3 (2003), page 590
2
Martin Shaw, ³The Theoretical Challenge of Global Society´ in
Global Society and 
 I 
nternational Relations²Sociological Concepts and Political  Perspectives
(Cambridge: Polity Press, 1994), page 11
3
Ibid., page 14
4
Robert Taylor, ³Interpreting Global Civil Society´ in Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations Vol.13, No.4(December 2002), pp. 339
 
The huge and increasing scope of global civil society¶s involvement, participation, and networking in almostall issues including human rights, environment, international trade, as well as core labor standards give themthe maximum prospects to create positive changes for the planet and the society. Their empiricalcontributions can be measured from the quantitative and comprehensive approach, seeing its increasingnumber of activities as well as by assessing its success in creating social changes.
5
Thenceforth, the mostdistinctive property of the global civil society is its innovative network forms and transformative purpose.However, this situation leads to the second characteristic of global civil society: the perceiveddegree of conceptual conflation about the relation between µstate¶ and µnon-state¶ actors within the concept.This weakness, according to main stream political sociologists, comes from the lack of sociological preconditions, i.e. a µglobal state¶, and limits resources to infrastructure in supporting global civil societyorganization as well as required networks for transnational identity formation and collective action. On such basis, several scholars maintain that the likelihood for global civil society developments is weak. It is foundthat the dynamics of global civil society is very much influenced by many aspects, including environment,technology, economy, social, as well as internal and external politics applied in certain countries. This can be seen from the volatile quantity of NGOs and movements during the past century. During World War II,for instance, the number of social movements and NGOs dropped until a very small number of hundreds,while today we have more than 25.000 registered non-governmental bodies and institutions.
6
 Third, the limitation for µglobal civil society¶ derives from the main approach utilized in studyingthe concept through descriptive nature and paradigmatic predilection, hence cannot be significantlydeveloped. The method, as Paul Nelson argues, is too restrictive in that it only covers specific issue areasand forms of INGO political action but does not holistically applicable to financial policy and trade issues; itis ³biased towards middle-class activism´ (Waterman) with ³labor issues very much in the background´(Evans).
7
Little attempt has been done to articulate a systematic understanding of the multiple overlappingorganizations and movements that progressively promote global civil society through an emphasis of developments in mix of descriptive empiricism and pregiven theory that actually hinder insights.Limitation to the global civil society actors also comes from the nature of µinherited¶ structures of  power that they work in.
8
Although one of their objectives is to actually transform this condition, they stopon the level of modifying or altering. This can be understandable if we locate global civil society in itsconstitutive context: a state-centric system of international relations that is dominated by a narrow section of humanity and within the structures of international capital that may permit dissent but do not permit anytransformation of their own agendas.
9
On the theoretical level, it is the belief of realists that such structurecan never be changed and thus become an inevitable limitation for the global civil society.Additional to the aforementioned problems, there are still a lot of principal inquiries that need to beanswered by the global civil society: (1) Who are they fighting for? (2) Realizing that their existence doesnot link to a certain geographical region, where did the legitimacy and justification to struggle for issues
5
Dwi Ardhanariswari, Transnational Society Lecture at E203 on
W
ednesday, 23 February 2011, at Faculty of Social and Political ScienceUniversitas Indonesia
 
6
Robert Taylor, Op Cit., page 339
7
Ibid.
8
Neera Chandoke, ³The Limits of Global Civil Society´, page 35
9
Ibid.

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