Civil Society in the Age of Monitory Democracy

Civil Society in the Age of Monitory Democracy

Lars Trägårdh
Nina Witoszek
Bron Taylor
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 358
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  • Book Info
    Civil Society in the Age of Monitory Democracy
    Book Description:

    Since the emergence of the dissident "parallel polis" in Eastern Europe, civil society has become a "new superpower," influencing democratic transformations, human rights, and international co-operation; co-designing economic trends, security and defense; reshaping the information society; and generating new ideas on the environment, health, and the "good life." This volume seeks to compare and reassess the role of civil society in the rich West, the poorer South, and the quickly expanding East in the context of the twenty-first century's challenges. It presents a novel perspective on civic movements testing John Keane's notion of "monitory democracy": an emerging order of public scrutiny and monitoring of power.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-757-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-21)
    Lars Trägårdh and Nina Witoszek

    In the 2008 James Bond filmQuantum of Solace,international business tycoon Dominic Greene schemes to buy up swaths of South American desert with the aim to control the water supply of an entire continent. Greene is not a stock turbo-capitalist. On the contrary, he is a world-renowned developer of green technology, and his operations are staged under the flag of idealistic Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). We are metaphorically—and literally—in a jungle of blurred boundaries, where civil society is no longer an adversary of states or corporations; rather it is their secret sharer.

    The Janus face of the twenty-first...

  5. Chapter 1 Civil Society in the Era of Monitory Democracy
    (pp. 22-51)
    John Keane

    This opening chapter proposes a fundamental revision of the way we think about representation and democracy in our times. It pinpoints an epochal transformation that has been taking place in the contours and dynamics of democracy as it is experienced within many global settings; it tables the claim that from roughly the mid-twentieth century, representative democracy in territorial state form started to morph into a new historical form of “post-representative” democracy, and explores some of the reasons why this change has happened. The chapter supposes that “end of history” perspectives and maritime metaphors (Huntington’s “third wave” of the sea simile...

  6. Chapter 2 Civil Society in the Age of Crisis
    (pp. 52-81)
    John Clark

    Today’s political topography is dominated by mountain ranges of global crises—actual and emerging. While other issues are extremely important, three peaks dominate: the global financial crisis and attendant unemployment, widening socio-cultural schisms emanating from the so-called “war on terror,” and climate change and the collapse of ecological systems. A 2005 global survey of citizens’ concerns¹ confirms these are the top worries of 62 percent of the world’s public. Myriad actors in civil society respond energetically to them and have significantly influenced public opinion and policy-makers; however, this chapter looks at the opposite direction of causality, asking how have these...

  7. Chapter 3 Digital Deprivation: New Media, Civil Society, and Sustainability
    (pp. 82-110)
    Paddy Coulter and Cathy Baldwin

    The arrival of new digital media since the 1990s has offered unparalleled scope to civil society organizations to mobilize a supporter base, generate public concern, give citizens a voice, and promote social change. What challenges must be overcome to capitalize on these opportunities?

    This chapter draws on academic assessments of development NGO activities and practitioner reports, together with interviews with senior figures in leading U.K.-based international non-governmental organizations, to explore the use of new media in development. We consider how NGOs can integrate new information and communications technologies (ICTs) into their work, and seek to assess what NGOs have achieved...

  8. Chapter 4 Monitory versus Managed Democracy: Does Civil Society Matter in Contemporary Russia?
    (pp. 111-136)
    Kathryn Stoner-Weiss

    John Keane uses the term “monitory democracy” to describe the growing oversight role of civic groups—both local and international—in calling democratic governments to account. By Keane’s reckoning, “democracy is no longer simply a way of handling the power of elected governments by electoral and parliamentary and constitutional means… people and organizations that exercise power are now routinely subject to public monitoring and public contestation by an assortment of extra-parliamentary bodies.”¹

    In the struggle between state and society, informal social organizations, rather than formal checks and balances on state actors, are allegedly winning epic battles. Moreover, for Keane, civil...

  9. Chapter 5 Monitory Democracy and Ecological Civilization in the People’s Republic of China
    (pp. 137-148)
    James Miller

    In what sense can religious values and institutions in China be seen as elements of civil society that have the function of challenging and monitoring the interests, values, and actions of the state? To answer this question, this chapter considers both the ways in which religious issues have played a small role in containing—rather than enhancing—the ideological authority of the current Chinese state, and whether they may be regarded as functioning in a way similar to Keane’s concept of monitory democracy. The first issue to be considered is the role Daoist values play in promoting awareness of environmental...

  10. Chapter 6 Tenuous Spaces: Civil Society in Burma/Myanmar
    (pp. 149-179)
    David I. Steinberg

    Although Burma (Myanmar) is on the cusp of political change through the transformation of its formal mechanisms of authority, its political system has been based on the military dictatorship, which was legitimized by the constitution approved in a manipulated referendum in 2008. A new phase started—if only at the level of rhetorics—after the elections on 7 November 2010, which were swept by the military’s surrogate party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). As described in March 2009 by Senior General Than Shwe, then the head of state, governance was to be a “discipline-flourishing democracy,” which would be...

  11. Chapter 7 Kenya’s Green Belt Movement: Contributions, Conflict, Contradictions, and Complications in a Prominent Environmental Non-Governmental Organization (ENGO)
    (pp. 180-207)
    Bron Taylor

    Kenya’s Green Belt Movement became internationally famous in 2004 when its founder, Wangari Maathai, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.² Since 1977, in Kenya and other parts of Africa, the movement has planted millions of trees in an effort to restore ecosystems, promote sustainable livelihoods, empower women, and promote democracy. Increasingly, Maathai has drawn a close connection between all these objectives and the quest for a peaceful society. As a result, Maathai and the movement she inspired are now well known internationally. A more complete picture, however, reveals not only contributions, but also complications and challenges that seriously undermine the...

  12. Chapter 8 A New Direction in Transnational Civil Society: The Politics of Muslim NGO Coalitions
    (pp. 208-230)
    Zeynep Atalay

    In recent decades, civil society has been one of the most debated concepts within and across various academic disciplines. Its capacity and political functions, as well as its normative values, have stimulated much research and debate in both academic and political fields. John Keane’s article on emerging “monitory democracy”—the centerpiece of this volume—considers civil society to play a significant role in the post–Westphalian era of global politics. Keane argues that civil society, today, has become a power-scrutinizing mechanism, “by putting politicians, parties, and elected governments permanently on their toes, complicating their lives, questioning their authority, and forcing...

  13. Chapter 9 Anti-Totalitarian Feminism? Civic Resistance in Iran
    (pp. 231-253)
    Haideh Daradeh and Nina Witoszek

    In the mass protest demonstrations that broke out in Iran in the wake of the contested presidential elections in June 2009, the conspicuous presence, and role, of women more than fulfilled the expectations of those who were aware of the long and gradual build-up to this eruption. Official reports and amateur citizen journalist films captured the level-headed courage of the women who confronted the Revolutionary Guards and militiamen, and stood between them and the demonstrators they were about to beat up and take away. The women acted as buffers to the spread of violence by standing between the angry crowd...

  14. Chapter 10 Associative Democracy in the Swedish Welfare State
    (pp. 254-268)
    Lars Trägårdh

    From a Nordic perspective, John Keane’s notion of “monitory democracy” seems more quaintly familiar than radically novel. With an ancient and constitutionally enshrined protection of freedom of speech, a well-established right to association, and the world’s oldest freedom of information legislation—Sweden’s Freedom of the Press Act of 1766, granting public access to government documents—one might even claim that Nordic democratic governance fundamentally rests on the pillars of what Julian Assange and Wikileaks now call “information activism.” Indeed, lacking a tradition of constitutionally embedded separation of powers, or a bill of rights protecting individuals and minorities from majoritarian “dictatorship,”...

  15. Chapter 11 State Capture of Civil Society: Effects of Patronage in the Norwegian Aid Industry
    (pp. 269-288)
    Asle Toje

    Civil society is the totality of civic and social organizations and institutions that form part of the basis of a functioning democratic society, distinct from the commercial institutions of the market and legally enforced structures of the state. Civil society organizations, including research institutions, are considered in most democracies to be independent of the government. They belong neither to the public sector nor to the private sector, but are rather something in between. Yet in a little over two decades, the Norwegian government has come to be the indispensable financier of Norwegian non-governmental organizations.

    In return for state funding, civil...

  16. Chapter 12 Civil Society as a Driver of Governance Innovation: A Montesquieu Perspective
    (pp. 289-309)
    Atle Midttun

    Following the neoliberal turn in the 1980s, the world has witnessed a fundamental change in business orientation in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Leading global companies and business organizations have engaged with a social and environmental agenda on an unprecedented scale. Distancing itself from the doctrine of profit maximization constrained only by public regulation, there has been a trend of businesses adopting the doctrine of corporate social and environmental responsibility (CSR). Firms have been establishing CSR divisions and are developing CSR visions and ethical guidelines. They have started reporting on social and environmental performance like never before, and have...

  17. Afterword An Ounce of Action is Worth a Ton of Theory
    (pp. 310-319)
    Nina Witoszek, Lars Trägårdh and Bill McKibben

    If John Keane, whose essay opens and ignites the debate in this volume—were looking for a living incarnation of a “global civil society,” Bill McKibben’s environmental movement,, would be the ideal example. So far nobody has explored in detail McKibben’s innovative breakthrough in creating an international, “post-carbon community” concerned with climate shift, though his is probably the most successful—and the most global—of all grassroots movements ever. Hence, we decided to treat his essay as a practitioner’s conclusion to our volume—a sort of test case for the prospects of monitory democracy.

    Inspired by world climatologist James...

  18. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 320-326)
  19. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 327-336)
  20. Index
    (pp. 337-350)