Jordan: redefining civil society


A younger generation of educated activists in Jordan is attempting to navigate the middle ground between maintaining the status quo and pushing for regime change – neither of which is a viable or desirable option, notes Heba Al Nasser, the Deputy Director for the British Council’s Next Generation Gulf Program.

Troubled by the intimidating public and official rhetoric towards civil society, they are reinventing their approach in order to build new perceptions of civil society organizations (CSOs) as trustworthy and effective. They also want to reclaim the definition of civil society as a ‘mechanism of collective empowerment that enhances the ability of citizens to protect their interests and rights from arbitrary or capricious state power’, she writes for Open Democracy:

A defining feature of the mobilization of younger-generation civic activists has been the emergence of ‘organic civic initiatives’. These are a new form of social enterprise, established under a 2010 law as non-profit companies. Under this structure, a Jordanian is allowed to form his or her own company to work in areas relating to four pre-designated social objectives: education, health, capacity-building and microfinance.

Practitioners are experimenting with alternative forms of organization on a small scale, Nasser argues, adding that this embryonic activism could enrich civil society and contribute to the development of a stronger democratic culture.


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