Civil society and civic space

Sarah Peck*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Civil society, and wider civic space, is considered crucial for global development. An ambiguous and contested concept civil society is associated with the spaces, associational formations and collective actions situated in between the market, the state and family in which people can act, debate and negotiate. Civil society, in its many guises - for example social movements, voluntary bodies, press associations, protests, hometown associations, savings societies - is often promoted as an opportunity for people to express their interests, to hold the state to account and to participate in societal change. This chapter covers the intersections between civil society and global development. It begins by outlining the connections between civil society and global development, asking (why) is civil society important for development? Following this the chapter explores the rise of civil society, both as an object to be strengthened and as a vehicle through which development is enacted, and subsequent critiques of dominant Eurocentric discourses of civil society and its position as a development actor. The final section of the chapter outlines some of the contemporary challenges to civil society; the narrowing of civic space, increasing illiberalism, populist and nationalist political currents, transnational repression and changes in aid architecture.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Companion to Development Studies
EditorsEmil Dauncey, Vandana Desai, Robert B. Potter
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9780429282348
ISBN (Print)9780367244231, 9780367244248
Publication statusPublished - 28 May 2024

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