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Global Civil Society: Changing the World?

Jan Aart Scholte

CSGR Working Paper No. 31/99

May 1999

Abstract

Is, as many of its enthusiastic proponents suggest, global civil society the key to future progressive politics? This paper first develops a definition of global civil society and explores the circumstances that have prompted its growth. The paper then considers the consequences of global civil society, particularly in relation to matters of sovereignty, identity, citizenship and democracy. The latter part of the paper proceeds to outline criteria for evaluating global civil society, identifying seven areas of promise and four possible dangers. The conclusion offers several suggestions that could help to maximise the benefits and minimise the pitfalls of global civil society.

Keywords: civil society, globalisation, citizenship, democracy.

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