Civil Society and Political Change in Asia: Expanding and Contracting Democratic Space

By Chan, Jennifer | Journal of East Asian Studies, September-December 2006 | Go to article overview

Civil Society and Political Change in Asia: Expanding and Contracting Democratic Space


Chan, Jennifer, Journal of East Asian Studies


Civil Society and Political Change in Asia: Expanding and Contracting Democratic Space. Edited by Muthiah Alagappa. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2004. 528 pp. $35.95. Paper.

As the scholarly and political attention on civil society continues to surge, particularly in a region where civil society space may still be limited by strong states, this timely study covering twelve countries in Asia offers an excellent comparative analysis of a complex phenomenon that remains little understood. What is the nature of civil society organizations in Asia? Does civil society in Asia foster or inhibit political change? These are the two central questions in this edited volume written by practitioners and academics from a range of fields, including political science, sociology, and history.

In this study, civil society is broadly defined as the distinct realm of organization and governance by nonstate and nonmarket groups that take collective action in the pursuit of the public good and that influence the politics and policies of the state. The book contains many important findings. Contrary to the claim that the concept of civil society is alien, civil societies have long histories in Asia and are highly diverse in terms of composition, goals, and strategies. They display features of both neo-Gramscian (civil society as a key terrain of strategic action to construct an alternate social and world order) and neo-Tocquevillean (participation in associations produces social capital that is vital to a healthy democracy) frameworks. The dramatic growth of civil society organizations has not, however, been accompanied by institutionalization of the nonstate public sphere. Civil society in Asia is viewed largely in instrumental terms, as a force that brings about or prevents political change rather than as an autonomous arena of self-governance. There is no necessary connection between civil society and democratic change. Its specific role then is contingent on, for example, the stage of development, the role of the state, and the political opportunities the state offers.

In addition to the rich historical as well as analytical country studies, one of the most important contributions of this book is to refute a common assumption that civil society necessarily contributes to democratic development. As Edward Aspinall writes in his fascinating study of civil society development in Indonesia, conflict within civil society itself reflected broader political, class, and cultural conflict, and the conflictual nature of Indonesian civil society contributed to the decline of democracy in the 1950s and 1960s. The Indian example of Hindu fundamentalist nongovernmental groups further attests to the fact that not all civil society organizations promote equal rights and democratic development. Another major contribution of this book is to challenge the predominant conception that civil society activities must be severely curtailed in strong militaristic or communist states and hence little political change may occur. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Civil Society and Political Change in Asia: Expanding and Contracting Democratic Space
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.