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Soc. Sci. 2018, 7(2), 30; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci7020030

Deconstructing Civil Society Actors and Functions: On the Limitations of International Frameworks for Fragile States

Department of Human Geography, Planning and International Development, Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam 1018 WV, The Netherlands
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Received: 17 January 2018 / Revised: 15 February 2018 / Accepted: 20 February 2018 / Published: 23 February 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Politics of Peace and Conflict)
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Abstract

Over the past three decades, there has been a steady increase of funds by the international community to support civil society organizations (CSOs) in fragile states. Surprisingly, this growing attention has not strengthened local civil society landscapes in a way that it would lead to processes of social transformation. On the contrary, civic freedom and space is shrinking around the globe. In analyzing prominent international aid-effectiveness frameworks and donor strategies towards civil society, this paper will put forward one central argument. The way in which civil society actors and functions are currently appropriated threatens deep-rooted social transformation thereby impeding processes of structural and political change—necessary for the transition from conflict to sustainable peace. In delineating, how actors and functional approaches informed peacebuilding and development policy and practice, their strengths and limitations will be examined. Doing so, we draw on different case studies and examples from the literature. We find that existing frameworks for fragile states operate on a presumed model of a public sphere and civil society that may or may not exist. Such an approach disregards an organic formation of a civil society landscape thereby impeding processes of structural, social, and political change in times of fragility. View Full-Text
Keywords: civil society; aid effectiveness; development; fragile states; international frameworks; actors- and functional-approaches civil society; aid effectiveness; development; fragile states; international frameworks; actors- and functional-approaches
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Datzberger, S.; Nguyen, T. Deconstructing Civil Society Actors and Functions: On the Limitations of International Frameworks for Fragile States. Soc. Sci. 2018, 7, 30.

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