Civil Society in the Shadow of the Neoliberal State: On the Depoliticization of Civil Society, 1992-present

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    Even though the beginning of the 1990s and the triumph of liberal democracy as the supreme governmental form signaled a bright future for the role of civil society in securing participation, democracy, alternatives, critique and contestation to state power, the reality has been somewhat different. With globalization and neoliberal policies and the dismantling of the Western welfare states, civil society has increasingly been mobilized for securing governmental and social aims that the states could or would no longer provide, and now the freedom, autonomy and critical role of civil society organizations and actors is becoming increasingly precarious, especially in the US. This paper argues that despite the political and democratic promises of civil society, we have to a large degree witnessed the political content of civil society being emptied, and civil society becoming increasingly marketized and/or neutralized with regards to political critique and contestation. This paper examines this process, especially focusing on the civil society policies of social democratic parties in the Western hemisphere, focusing on Bill Clinton´s Democratic Party, Tony Blair's Labour, Gerhard Schröder's SPD as well as the Danish Social Democratic Party under Poul Nyrup Rasmussen. The paper argues that while at the same time heralding the democratic forces of civil society, in effect these governments depoliticized civil society, paving the way for a general lack of civil society alternatives to the crisis both at present and in the future.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2017
    Number of pages1
    Publication statusPublished - 2017
    Event42nd Annual Meeting of the Social Science History Association: Changing Social Connections in Time and Space - Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth, Montereal, Canada
    Duration: 2 Nov 20175 Nov 2017
    Conference number: 42


    Conference42nd Annual Meeting of the Social Science History Association
    LocationFairmont The Queen Elizabeth
    Internet address

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