Education between States, Markets, and Civil Society: Comparative Perspectives

By Heinz-Dieter Meyer; William L. Boyd | Go to book overview

Chapter Thirteen
Beyond the Nation-State: Educational Contention in Global Civil Society
KAREN MUNDY
LYNN MURPHY

The past decade has seen a remarkable rise of interest in the role of civil society in processes of educational change. To date, however, this interest has primarily focused on the involvement of nongovernmental actors in national and subnational educational arenas, where civil society is defined both as a “realm of conflicting normative claims” and as a “social space, where private individuals contribute …to the public good by voluntary means” (Meyer, chapter 8, this volume).

In this chapter, we depart from the more common focus on national and subnational definitions of civil society to explore the contribution of international nongovernmental actors to educational change at a transnational or global level. Scholars of international relations have defined international civil society as “the realm of international institutions, including the informal norms and practices of state officials and private citizens operating across state boundaries; international regimes created by explicit agreements among states; international nongovernmental organizations; and formal international agencies” (Murphy & Augelli, 1993, p. 76). They have also begun to argue that an increasingly strong and complex array of international nongovernmental actors and organizational forms is developing into a powerful force for greater global civility, democracy, and transformative social change (Lipschutz, 1996; Rosenau, 1997; Smith, 1997; Smouts, 1999).

In what follows, we begin with a brief introduction to the literature on transnational advocacy and global civil society and to the notion of an emergent global arena of educational contention and change. Drawing on interviews with leaders in nongovernmental organizations, which we conducted by telephone or in the head offices of respective organiza

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