Civil Society and Democracy in Global Governance

By Scholte, Jan Aart | Global Governance, July-September 2002 | Go to article overview

Civil Society and Democracy in Global Governance


Scholte, Jan Aart, Global Governance


Civil society" has moved center stage in current discussions of globalization. And well it might do after the recent high-profile events of Seattle, Davos, Washington, Melbourne, Prague, Porto Alegre, Quebec, and Genoa. Many observers are asking, with varying blends of curiosity and indignation: Who are these people anyway? Why should we give them time and attention? What right do they have to interrupt--and even obstruct--the governance of global relations?

This article considers these questions of legitimacy against yardsticks of democracy. Effective governance is regulation that achieves not only efficiency and order, but also public participation and public accountability. In building governance for expanding global spaces in the contemporary world, technocratic criteria have to date received far more attention than democratic standards. This article addresses the more neglected side of the equation by exploring the potentials and limitations of civil society as a force for democracy in global governance.

What are the implications of civil society mobilization for democracy in global governance? Many observers have celebrated the rise of global civic (1) activism as a boon for democracy, while many others have decried it as a bane. Yet these assessments--both positive and negative--have tended to rest on little more than anecdote and prejudice. To be sure, recent years have brought important research on civil society and global governance. (2) However, none of this work has focused primarily, explicitly, and rigorously on the question of civil society and democracy in global governance.

This article elaborates a possible framework of analysis and on this basis suggests that civil society activism offers significant possibilities to reduce the major democratic deficits that have grown during recent decades in the governance of global relations. Given this promise, these experiments in new forms of public participation, consultation, representation, and accountability should be pursued further. However, the democratic benefits of civil society engagement of global governance do not flow automatically: they must be actively nurtured. Moreover, civil society has the potential to detract from as well as add to democracy in the ways that global affairs are regulated. So we do well to approach this subject with both optimism and caution.

I develop this general argument below in four main steps. In the first section, I present working definitions of key concepts and lay out a framework of analysis. In the second section, I set out the shortfalls of democracy in current governance of global spaces. In the third section, I suggest various ways that civil society can promote democracy in global governance. In the fourth section, I point to ways that civil society can fail to realize its democratic promise or, still more worrying, can in some cases actually undermine democracy in global governance.

The operative word in the last two sentences is a tentative "can," as opposed to a definite "does." This article identifies a set of assessment criteria that might guide further studies of civil society and democracy in global governance. Only a framework of evaluation and general hypotheses are suggested here. Much more empirical investigation is required before we can draw firmer conclusions regarding the relationship that has prevailed--and could prevail--in practice between civil society and democracy in the governance of global spaces. (3)

Framework of Analysis

Each concept in the title of this article--civil society, democracy, global, and governance--is heavily contested. No attempt is made here to resolve these disputes, and many readers will indeed take issue with the positions adopted in this discussion. However, explicit working definitions are needed to lend clarity and internal coherence to the argument. …

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
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 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 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.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Civil Society and Democracy in Global Governance
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
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
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.”

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 8, MLA 7, 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." (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.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    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.