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Civil society and religious figures in Saudi Arabia - Literature review Example

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1. In this study, the role of civil society is treated as an arm of the monarchy in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to aid the leadership in its goal of fostering social and economic development. According to Al Alekri, et al. (2008), attempts to portray the Civil Service Organizations in countries within the GCC will generally be met with pessimism because for CSOs in this region the State is the funding party…
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Civil society and religious figures in Saudi Arabia
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Download file to see previous pages The conference report stated that in Saudi Arabia, “all non-governmental organizations are controlled by the state in a way or another, and they do not have their full independence” (p. 3). According to the report, many official authorities supervise CSOs and interfere in the elections of their board of directors; they also oversee the audit and financial accounts of these organizations. 2-4 Nature of civil society, what is it, its history, how did it affect western policy when it was first applied, what changes occurred in the west. Definition and nature of civil society There are several forms of democracy that involve varying levels of citizenship participation. What distinguishes civil society is its role as channel for deliberation, which is essentially different from voting and negotiation. Voting is the mere aggregation of preferences, and negotiation or bargaining involves voluntary coordination across different groups; these are essentially procedural, however, and reflect opinions already arrived at and distributions of power already established (Heller, 2013, 1). Deliberation, on the other hand, is “decision making by discussion among free and equal citizens (Elster 1998, 1 in Heller, 2013, 1). By deliberating, citizens and civil society organisations debate the issues before preferences can be solidified, thus act to inform and evaluate prior to taking positions on any side of the debate, making it a better alternative than voting. Also, deliberation allows participants to adjust their preferences by introducing new information, contexts, conceptualisations and understanding into what is essentially the decision-making process and creates a better coordination process than bargaining. History and development of civil society “Civil society” as a term originated during the times of the ancient Greek and Roman philosophers, although in these contexts the phrase was associated more with the state. The term was however discontinued from usage in the mid-1800s because of the shift in the attention of political philosophers to the repercussions and implications of the industrial revolution. In post-World War II, Marxist theorist Antonio Gramsci revived the term to mean the society of citizens as the core of autonomous political activity, specifically in rebellion against tyranny. All these notwithstanding, civil society gained a new meaning in the 1990s when the term again resurfaced as globalisation spread throughout the various nations (Carothers, 1999, 19). Effects of civil society on western policy Heller (2013) views civil society as a reaction of grassroots elements to the growing tide of globalisation and marginalisation of representative democracy and bureaucratic organisation, which the author describes as having suffered in terms of legitimacy and effectiveness. There have generally been two responses to this development. First is the push towards “good governance” whereby the state and institutions such as the market are made self-regulating and thus insulated against politics. Under this situation, however, the voice of the people – a.k.a. democracy – is reduced to the ballot every election period, and nothing more. Another response, which the author views as a better alternat ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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