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Civil society and religious figures in Saudi Arabia - review2 - Literature review Example

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Litrev Supplement 1. Definition and nature of civil society Civil society is most commonly defined as “the intermediate sphere” between individual/family and state, although the specific components of this sphere are diverse (Singh, 2013, p. 1). There are various qualifications attached to this “intermediate sphere.” Some adopt Hegel’s view of civil society including bureaucracy and corporations in contrast to the state (Church, 2010)…
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Download file to see previous pages Finally, some see civil society as a loose public arena for deliberation and reason rather than ascription or inherited advocacies (Hermida, 2013; Karskens, 2008). Throughout the spectrum of definitions, the most salient characteristic of civil society is that it represents the interest and benefit of the general population. The definitions vary in terms of nature (bureaucratic and institutional versus grassroots), origin (government-established or spontaneously organised), and source of funding (government or private). The overlap with state bureaucracy and funding often raises the question as to the independence of civil service organisation. Arab monarchies generally see no problem with CSOs pursuing the civil goals of government, as government goals should be aligned with the people’s best interest (Bellin, 1994). Western countries on the other hand feel that CSOs must be a party separate from the government and free from intervention, in order to truly represent the welfare of the public free from political interest. It is evident that the concept of civil society continues to remain ambiguous, and the particular meaning given to it shall be imbued with the context of the society in which the civil society organisation operates. 2. Soviet Union Democracy transformation in 1998 There are two notable aspects of civil society in the context of post-soviet Russia, according to Jagudina (2002). One is the “doubled” character of the Soviet public sphere, and the other is about solidarity through exchange of favours. The so-called double character refers to the co-existence of (1) a ‘rigidly regulated economic and social framework’ under Soviet leadership, and (2) the ‘dynamic disparate networks and local environments’ comprised of families, neighbours, colleagues, and close acquaintances. When the rigid political framework collapsed in the late 1980s, the public sphere evolved into a vacuum that was quickly turned into a space where new informational technologies took over, fostering confrontation, ambiguity, and manipulation by clerics and activists (Jagudina, 2002). The other aspect is that of “solidarity through exchange of favours.” The aforementioned disparate networks of families and close associates operating beyond the range of the heavily regulated social framework, and provided reference points and communication channels for circulating information that were considered more reliable than official channels which towed the government line (Jagudina, 2002). This “traditional society” is comprised of “networks of solidarity based on primordial communities, kinship and patronage” (Roy, 2005, p. 1006). In the early 2000s, after the collapse of the Soviet regime, there eventually arose 250-300 organisations that perceived themselves to be the new burgeoning Russian civil society, springing from the underground networks that former operated under the radar of the Soviet regulatory framework. Explicitly political, these organisations provided a critical voice in government by airing the grievances of the broad segment of the population. These organisations operate in an environment where mass media is unsupportive, state authorities are unresponsive, a general ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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