How civil society impacts democratization


Successful democratic transitions are not driven by specialist pro-democracy NGOs, but by ‘durable’ groups such as labor unions which address everyday, mundane needs rather than compete for political power, research suggests. It is how these ‘quotidian civil society organizations’ mobilize individuals – through unions, churches, or political parties – that affects democratization, Jonathan Pinckney, Charles Butcher, and Jessica Maves Braithwaite write in International Studies Quarterly.

Our findings shed light on when resistance “from below” does and does not lead to medium-term democratic change as well as practical implications for activists, practitioners, and policymakers. This work speaks to the importance of investing in the kinds of quotidian civil society networks of labor, worship, and professionalization that can later serve as the backbone for resistance to autocracy. It also speaks to the importance of building capacity for resistance into these types of organizations that are not typically built for dissent, for instance, through training in nonviolent resistance.

“As demonstrated by the powerful examples of organizations from Solidarity in Poland to the Sudan Professionals Association,” they add, “when QCSOs join the fight, even the most robust and repressive regimes may be followed by democratization.” RTWT

Iraqi civil society and democratization

Nearly two decades since the U.S. invasion of Iraq, democratic consolidation is still elusive. What role has Iraqi civil society played in the path towards democratization and how has it developed? What is the relationship between civil society and democracy in Iraq? The Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings convenes a panel to discuss these questions and the related themes explored in the recently published report, “Postwar development of civil society in Iraq’s mid-Euphrates region.” Speakers: report author Marsin Alshamary, Belfer Center, Harvard Kennedy School; Shamiran Mako, Boston University; Lahib Higel, International Crisis Group. Moderator: Simona Foltyn, Special Correspondent – PBS NewsHour in Iraq.  February 7, 10:00 AM EST – 11:00 AM EST. Register.


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