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Learning Civil Societies

Learning Civil Societies: Shifting Contexts for Democratic Planning and Governance

Penny Gurstein
Leonora Angeles
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Learning Civil Societies
    Book Description:

    This collection explores the theoretical underpinnings of democratic planning and governance in relation to civil society formation and social learning.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8450-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction: Learning Civil Societies for Democratic Planning and Governance
    (pp. 3-22)

    The domains of planning and governance politics have until recently been thought of as separate spheres, each signified and represented by linked yet distinct set of actors – that is, professional career practitioners and elected politicians – and by different yet intersecting values and inclinations, especially with regards to public opinion and participation. Community planning in the 1950s in particular had often associated with the social work field, where the scope of planners’ work was restricted, their methods rudimentary, and where they ‘typically engaged in rather parochial and low-keyed kind of operations’ (Rothman 1999, 15). Whereas community planning was seen as narrow,...

  5. Part 1. Planning, Citizenship, and Civic Engagement in a Postmodern World

    • [PART ONE Introduction]
      (pp. 23-30)

      NUMEROUS AUTHORS have documented the end of the modern era and the rise of the postmodern world. Havel (1994) describes the postmodern world as fluid and unpredictable, ‘where everything is possible and almost nothing is certain.’ In denying the possibility of objective knowledge, postmodernism asserts that different cultures see the world in very different ways. It is from these multiple positionalities that our understanding of citizenship and civil society engagement are formed. A postmodern perspective offers alternatives to the globalizing forces of consumption by focusing on local actions, and in turn, a postmodernist politics offers a way to theorize about...

    • 1 Postcolonialism and Planning: Where Has It Been? Where Is It Going?
      (pp. 31-58)

      Few would disagree with the statement that what happened on September 11, 2001, particularly in New York City, was the most significant event in over half a century to affect the contemporary city. Whatever its meaning for global politics, it has also massively unsettled the way people like us – academics, community and regional planners, urban professionals of one kind and another – think about both the meaning and the future of the city.

      Nor has it escaped the notice of anyone among this particular community that this almost unthinkable erasure, from the mental image of what is probably the most globally...

    • 2 Localities and Cultural Citizenship: Narratives of Racialized Girls Living In, Through, and Against Whiteness
      (pp. 59-88)

      This chapter examines the formation of cultural citizenship among racialized – defined as being seen as different from the dominant majority groups because of phenotypical and cultural markers – girls and young women who live in Victoria, British Columbia. It examines the relationship among specific cultural localities and citizen identity formation. By amplifying the voices of racialized girls and young women, both immigrant and Canadian-born – voices rarely heard in theory or practice; by making visible hidden challenges and strategies of living in a context of dominant whiteness and linking these experiences to citizen-identity formation; and by bringing these narratives and experiences into...

    • 3 Creating Digital Public Space: Implications for Deliberative Engagement
      (pp. 89-117)

      Increasing disillusionment and the divide between elected officials, bureaucrats, and citizens are major impediments to progressive governance. In the face of growing cynicism, and inequalities of power and political voice, how can public deliberations be effective and ‘participatory planning a pragmatic reality rather than an empty ideal’? (Forester 1999)? Decision-making that is deliberative and that recognizes the complexity of public issues – including the socio-economic, cultural, and environmental contexts in which they are embedded – and the need for a framework to engage citizens in these issues, is a prerequisite to more livable, equitable, and sustainable communities. Deliberative decision-making supports effective citizen...

    • 4 Rationality and Surprise: The Drama of Mediation in Rebuilding Civil Society
      (pp. 118-140)

      As we become increasingly interconnected, locally and globally, we will need more than ever to listen and learn from one another. We will also need both institutional processes and sensitive practices that will not only nurture mutual respect but, even more, practical cooperation, as we work to protect the environment, build community, and achieve a more just world.

      This essay responds to these challenges by examining the ways in which citizens acting as astute mediators can help to resolve complex public disputes – disputes that not only involve bargaining over differing economic interests but require reconciling deeply differing social and cultural...

  6. Part 2. Civil Society Learning for Democratic Governance

    • [PART TWO Introduction]
      (pp. 141-149)

      PART 2 OF THIS BOOK deals with the dynamics, processes, and challenges faced by civil societies in attempting to democratize political governance through social learning. Our contributors understand civil societies to be those organizations, spaces, and activities that involve citizens acting together in their own right to achieve a common good, with no bidding or prodding from a higher authority, apart from direct party affiliation or political alignment. Hence, they are not concerned primarily with power, but they may be, and often are, vigilant against any abuse or excessive concentration of power on the part of the state and non-state...

    • 5 Social Movements, Civil Society, and Learning in a World at Risk
      (pp. 150-171)
      BUDD L. HALL

      Social movement learning refers to several interconnected phenomena: informal learning occurring by persons who are part of any social movement; intentional learning that is stimulated by organized educational efforts of the social movements themselves; and formal and informal learning that takes place among the broad public, the citizens, as a result of the activities undertaken by a given social movement (Hall 2005). This chapter looks at the learning dimensions of social movements as they relate to civil society and aspirations for democratic governance. It posits that social movements are the transformative energy behind the emergence of civil society organizations and...

    • 6 Learning and Teaching for Transformation: Insights from a Collaborative Learning Initiative
      (pp. 172-195)

      Decisions are made every day by professionals and practitioners working in government, donor organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and community-based organizations (CBOs), research institutions, and other agencies whose policies and priorities can profoundly affect the lives of millions of poor people throughout the world. Among these decision-makers are many who genuinely want to bring about positive social change, but they are an extremely heterogeneous group, exerting different levels of influence and power. Those who work at higher levels of institutions and organizations tend to have completed many years of formal education. Often their qualifications were gained in institutions of higher learning,...

    • 7 The Myth of Community? Implications for Civil Society Organizations and Democratic Governance
      (pp. 196-225)

      The notion of community is not a myth when it comes to development impact. Communities have proven political, economic, and cultural clout in effecting unique development trajectories despite many obstacles. Indigenous communities have been gaining recognition of their identity, while economically not prosperous rural communities in many countries have slowly been creating new livelihoods as earlier options fade away. But are such communities not just illusory havens of temporary cohesion and contrived clarity? Any one of us, as a member of a community, knows of the often-serious internal differences of gender, race, class, or generation that create factions and thereby...

    • 8 Renegotiating Decentralization and State–Civil Society Relations: A Reinterpretation of Naga City’s Experiment in Participatory Governance
      (pp. 226-262)

      Naga City is located in the Bicol region of the Philippines. Its story as a local government internationally renowned for best practices in decentralized participatory governance has been told many times over in academic books and journals, international development bulletins, and regional and national magazines. Naga City’s outstanding achievements in various fields of governance, including health, nutrition, peace and order, child welfare, environmental protection, solid waste management, tax collection, government procurement, and so forth, have received many well-deserved accolades. Hailed as a dynamic and live-able city in a Third World country, Naga rose impressively in the 1990s from a third-class...

  7. Contributors
    (pp. 263-265)