Academic journal article Demokratizatsiya

Europeanization through Socialization? the EU's Interaction with Civil Society Organizations in Armenia

Academic journal article Demokratizatsiya

Europeanization through Socialization? the EU's Interaction with Civil Society Organizations in Armenia

Article excerpt

In the context of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), wherein the EU no longer incentivizes political and economic reform in its neighborhood with the promise of membership, a newer mechanism for normative transformation-known as socialization-has gained momentum in scholarly literature.1 This paper examines the EU's democratic strategy with Armenia through the perspective of interaction with civil society organizations (CSOs). It is noted that civil society interaction and promotion has gained notable weight in the international community and in EU polices as a viable and fruitful avenue for achieving democratic gains. Furthermore, CSOs are argued to be resourceful targets for socialization initiatives and strategies. Consequently, this paper critiques the EU's interaction with domestic NGOs in Armenia in order to assess the EU's socializing ability in furthering Europeanization among domestic CSOs in the transitioning states of the Eastern Neighbourhood. Ultimately, the paper contends that the depth of the EU's interaction with Armenian CSOs has yet to reach a sufficient level at which socialization strategies can produce internalization of norms and roles by the recipient actor.

In examining the EU's socialization mechanism in the ENP by evaluating the EU's interaction with domestic CSOs, this paper will be developed with the follow- ing structure: First, it will engage with the literature on the role of civil society in the international context of democratization where a functioning civil society is now judged as an indelible component of successful democratization. Second, the pertinent theoreti- cal literature related to socialization will be evaluated and shaped in order to specifically critique the EU's interaction with Armenian CSOs in the context of the ENP. Third, the place of civil society promotion and engagement in the democratic strategies and policies of the EU will be considered, with specific examination of the EIDHR instrument and the Eastern Partnership (EaP), both of which shape the ENP in relation to civil society engage- ment. Fourth, it will employ a case study of four domestic Armenian NGOs that intends to illuminate the EU's engagement CSOs on the ground. Lastly, the empirical findings of the case study will be reconnected with the theoretical measurements in order posit the effec- tiveness of socialization in the context of the ENP. Although this paper does not claim to offer robust findings related to socialization of CSOs in the EU's Eastern Neighbourhood, it intends to offer a snapshot of the role of socialization in the ENP, as well as contribute to the fledging socialization discourse related to the EU.

Civil Society and Democratization

The term "civil society" can be traced as far back as antiquity, discernible in the works of Aristotle (and others) who used it to describe a "social order of citizenship, one where men (rarely women) regulate their relationships and settle their disputes according to a system of laws; where civility reigns, and citizens take an active part in public life."2 However, civil society, until recently, has remained on the periphery of democratization scholar- ship. Although civil society has received ample philosophical scrutiny over the centuries from notable political philosophers such as Locke, Hegel, Marx and Gramsci, since the late 1980s the concept has become an increasingly important topic in the democratization discourse. This has occurred largely due to the work of intellectual dissidents from the authoritarian countries of Eastern Europe and Latin America, who have identified civil society development as a necessary avenue for breaking authoritarian rule.3 Furthermore, civil society has remained a focal point of the democratic debate with the rise of the "neo-Tocquevillian" school of thought influenced by the work of Robert Putnam,4 who argued that democratic government is strengthened when it faces a vigorous civil society.5 The contemporary democratic literature generally views civil society as playing a posi- tive and significant role in both democratic transition and democratic consolidation. …

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