1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Visible Hands: Taking Responsibility for Social Development

Programme Area: Special Events (2000 - 2009)
Project Title: Geneva 2000: The Next Step in Social Development
No. of Pages: 190

From Chapter 6: Civil Societies…

People are banding together to influence state policy and have a stronger voice in the international arena. They are building new partnerships and employing new tactics for dealing with globalization and its risks. The results of their actions have been mixed.

The Social Summit, like many other international gatherings before and since, placed a lot of trust in civil society. This is a rather amorphous category covering myriad groups that belong neither to government nor to the profit-making private sector. A civil society organization (CSO) could therefore be anything from a community-based organization (CBO), like a village savings group, to an international trade union federation. Confusingly, civil society also includes non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which sound as though they could be identical, but are actually a sub-set of CSOs. NGOs are understood to be the larger and more professionalized CSOs that aim to deliver benefits not to their own members but to the wider community.

As social and political conditions mutate over time, so do the components of civil society and the ways in which they link-up and interact. Many would argue that today there is even an international civil society, reflecting the special concerns, habits and cultural norms of the people who come together at international gatherings or who take international collective action.

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