Civil society as a bottom-up approach

Civil society as a bottom-up approach

university of cape town
Civil society as a “bottom-up” approach in SA
SOC2030F: Dabo, Dina


The process of the globalization of the world economy has impacted the world in various ways however, for ‘weaker’ countries, globalization has disadvantaged its citizens as it has resulted in national governments being be more responsive to financial markets rather than the needs of their poor (Blauuw, 2003:2). Now although civil society has long since existed as resistance against national and international governments and their neo-liberalistic policies, the twentieth century has seen a growth in civil society and this is a result of the political gap or rather the space created by globalization where civil society organizations are now seen as key potential instruments in enhancing democracy, equity and sustainable development (Blauuw, 2003: 1; Korten, 2002: 8; Scholte, 1999: 1; Midgal, 1988 as cited in Blauuw, 2003: 2). In South Africa, the systematic oppression of colonialism, the legacy of apartheid, the dialectic exclusion of globalization and the problems in delivery of services on the part of the new government has resulted in high levels of inequality and poverty which in turn have led to the growth of civil society (Oosthuizen, 2008:1; Roodt, 2001:477; Ismail, 2003:95). It is the need for transformative civil society and its growth that has sparked discussions and debates around the transformative potential of civil society in South Africa with some authors viewing civil society as ‘hard to achieve and sustain’ whilst other authors like Cox (1999:10 as cited in Blauuw, 2003:5), are more optimistic and hold the view that “the transformative potential of civil society is dependent on the conception of civil society as a “bottom-up” approach”.

This paper thus seeks to critically discuss the transformative potential of civil society in South Africa and through doing so, expand the boundaries for understanding the ways in which...

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