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Civil Society, Ethnicity and the State: a threefold relationship An paper delivered by GEORGE SCHOPFLIN at the conference Civil Society in Austria, 20-21.

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Presentation on theme: "Civil Society, Ethnicity and the State: a threefold relationship An paper delivered by GEORGE SCHOPFLIN at the conference Civil Society in Austria, 20-21."— Presentation transcript:

1 Civil Society, Ethnicity and the State: a threefold relationship An paper delivered by GEORGE SCHOPFLIN at the conference Civil Society in Austria, 20-21 June 1997 Reviewed by Dolores Joseph SO203

2 Theme This article states that democracy is made up of three key interdependent elements: Civil society, state and ethnicity. This article states that democracy is made up of three key interdependent elements: Civil society, state and ethnicity. Each of these elements have different functions and roles, sometimes overlapping and sometimes contradictory attitudes and aspirations. They are reshaped through continuous interaction. Each of these elements have different functions and roles, sometimes overlapping and sometimes contradictory attitudes and aspirations. They are reshaped through continuous interaction. So civil society is not a static entity but a shifting one responsive to changes in politics and vulnerable to pressures. It is bound by other actors on the stage eg the government and how civil society reacts to policies and regulations imposed on them. So civil society is not a static entity but a shifting one responsive to changes in politics and vulnerable to pressures. It is bound by other actors on the stage eg the government and how civil society reacts to policies and regulations imposed on them.

3 Main Issues Civil Society Civil Society described in the Collins Dictionary of Sociology means market and economic relations (in contrast with the activity of the state); a realm intermediate between the family and the state. described in the Collins Dictionary of Sociology means market and economic relations (in contrast with the activity of the state); a realm intermediate between the family and the state. Ethnicity Ethnicity Ethnicity as described by the Sociology dictionary means a shared (perceived or actual) racial, linguistic or national identity of a social group. Ethnicity as described by the Sociology dictionary means a shared (perceived or actual) racial, linguistic or national identity of a social group. The State The State as described by the Sociology dictionary is the overall territory and social system which is subject to a particular rule or domination. as described by the Sociology dictionary is the overall territory and social system which is subject to a particular rule or domination.

4 Civil Society It is suggested that the stronger the state, the weaker the civil society. Some argue that the state oppresses civil society. However it is difficult to imagine the civil society operating successfully without the state because the citizens are protected by the laws of the state. It is suggested that the stronger the state, the weaker the civil society. Some argue that the state oppresses civil society. However it is difficult to imagine the civil society operating successfully without the state because the citizens are protected by the laws of the state. The state provides the framework in which the civil society operates with a degree of coherence The state provides the framework in which the civil society operates with a degree of coherence

5 Civil Society contd This framework includes the rule of law which is administered by the state machinery namely the judiciary, legislature and executive and disciplined forces This framework includes the rule of law which is administered by the state machinery namely the judiciary, legislature and executive and disciplined forces Equally the civil society must be free to challenge the state in its rigid bureaucracy Equally the civil society must be free to challenge the state in its rigid bureaucracy

6 Ethnicity Sociologists tend to regard social groups as being identifiable in terms of cultural phenomena such as shared customs, institutions, rituals and language. Sociologists tend to regard social groups as being identifiable in terms of cultural phenomena such as shared customs, institutions, rituals and language. Where a set of values and identity are shared between different social strata, where they regard one another as sharing certain commonalities, respond to the same symbols and share certain key moral aims and obligations, the basis for redistribution of power becomes less hazardous. Where a set of values and identity are shared between different social strata, where they regard one another as sharing certain commonalities, respond to the same symbols and share certain key moral aims and obligations, the basis for redistribution of power becomes less hazardous.

7 Ethnicity contd Under pre-modern conditions the level of consent was lower, affected fewer people so that ethnic identities werent a major factor in the relationship between state and society but the growth of state power and capacity generated the need for a new basis of trust. Under pre-modern conditions the level of consent was lower, affected fewer people so that ethnic identities werent a major factor in the relationship between state and society but the growth of state power and capacity generated the need for a new basis of trust. If ethnic consent was absent, the redistribution of power could not take place or the state was divided, an example is the failure of the Royal Prussia as a state, German speaking but subject to the Polish crown. If ethnic consent was absent, the redistribution of power could not take place or the state was divided, an example is the failure of the Royal Prussia as a state, German speaking but subject to the Polish crown.

8 The State The State is a set of institutions that possess authority to make laws which govern people in one or more societies The State is a set of institutions that possess authority to make laws which govern people in one or more societies Where premodern states had subjects, modern states have citizens – full members of political communities enjoying the right to vote, the right to stand for office, freedom of expression, welfare rights. Where premodern states had subjects, modern states have citizens – full members of political communities enjoying the right to vote, the right to stand for office, freedom of expression, welfare rights.

9 Functions of the State The State makes laws, policies, rules and enforces legitimate use of force The State makes laws, policies, rules and enforces legitimate use of force It is the legal and moral enforcer of laws, protects boundaries, is the impartial arbiter for conflict and It is the legal and moral enforcer of laws, protects boundaries, is the impartial arbiter for conflict and legitimises citizenship, relationships and resources distribution (refer to Week 3 lecture notes) legitimises citizenship, relationships and resources distribution (refer to Week 3 lecture notes)

10 Citizenship Citizenship is defined in this analysis as the package of legal, political, institutional, economic, social and cultural relationships that bind society and the individual to the state and which govern political relationships within society. Citizenship is defined in this analysis as the package of legal, political, institutional, economic, social and cultural relationships that bind society and the individual to the state and which govern political relationships within society. Citizenship is explicit, open to questioning directly and subject to continuous political engagement. Citizenship is explicit, open to questioning directly and subject to continuous political engagement. It is through the rules of citizenship that civil society finds expression and there are procedures, mechanisms and provisions that make power transparent and predictable. It is through the rules of citizenship that civil society finds expression and there are procedures, mechanisms and provisions that make power transparent and predictable.

11 Citizenship contd Without the stabilising element of citizenship, the exercise of power becomes arbitrary and generates insecurity; this insecurity then reacts on ethnicity and can give rise to a sense that ones ethnic identity is threatened which can trigger off a deep-seated intolerance born of the fear that ones ethnic identity is in danger. Without the stabilising element of citizenship, the exercise of power becomes arbitrary and generates insecurity; this insecurity then reacts on ethnicity and can give rise to a sense that ones ethnic identity is threatened which can trigger off a deep-seated intolerance born of the fear that ones ethnic identity is in danger. This happens when the state is too weak to protect civil society or has no interest in doing so. This happens when the state is too weak to protect civil society or has no interest in doing so. The combination of state and ethnicity when used against civil society is what usually leads to the shift towards nationalism when ethnicity becomes the major issue in politics. The combination of state and ethnicity when used against civil society is what usually leads to the shift towards nationalism when ethnicity becomes the major issue in politics.

12 Strengths The key proposition in this analysis is that citizenship, ethnicity and the state exist in mutual interdependence. The key proposition in this analysis is that citizenship, ethnicity and the state exist in mutual interdependence. The ideal situation is when a three-fold equilibrium comes into being which is a necessary condition for democracy. The ideal situation is when a three-fold equilibrium comes into being which is a necessary condition for democracy. As is understood that threefold relationships are dynamic, the equilibrium does not have to be perfect. As is understood that threefold relationships are dynamic, the equilibrium does not have to be perfect.

13 Strengths contd A variety of solutions are possible: A variety of solutions are possible: There are various models of democracy in Europe today for eg. France can be said to have a strong state, strong ethnicity and a civil society weaker than the state. There are various models of democracy in Europe today for eg. France can be said to have a strong state, strong ethnicity and a civil society weaker than the state. In Italy there is an inefficient state but a well articulated civil society and a strong ethnicity resulting in citizenship-driven social action without the equilibrating function of the state. In Italy there is an inefficient state but a well articulated civil society and a strong ethnicity resulting in citizenship-driven social action without the equilibrating function of the state. England has a high capacity state and growing stronger, a weakening civil society and a strong ethnicity with growing diversity of identities. (Refer to table of population from week 3 lecture 2) England has a high capacity state and growing stronger, a weakening civil society and a strong ethnicity with growing diversity of identities. (Refer to table of population from week 3 lecture 2)

14 Contd Almost every European state is multi ethnic and creates difficulties in the area of political management but the answer could be in the form of powersharing Almost every European state is multi ethnic and creates difficulties in the area of political management but the answer could be in the form of powersharing If they believe that in democratic states all citizens have equal right to cultural reproduction and share in material and symbolic goods then they identify fully with the state so the question of suspicion and distrust doesnt arise. If they believe that in democratic states all citizens have equal right to cultural reproduction and share in material and symbolic goods then they identify fully with the state so the question of suspicion and distrust doesnt arise.

15 Weaknesses Challenges to the state bring the danger of state failure, the most common one being the collapse of a multi ethnic state eg Austria-Hungary, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. Challenges to the state bring the danger of state failure, the most common one being the collapse of a multi ethnic state eg Austria-Hungary, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. In this analysis state failure is attributed to: complete disappearance (Montenegro); the loss or addition of territory; major upheaval like foreign occupation; aftermath of civil war; decolonisation and the loss of empire. In this analysis state failure is attributed to: complete disappearance (Montenegro); the loss or addition of territory; major upheaval like foreign occupation; aftermath of civil war; decolonisation and the loss of empire.

16 Weaknesses contd The heart of the problem is that what is regarded as natural and normal like solidarity, loyalties and bonds are located in ethnic identity which obviously vary from one ethnic group to another. For eg how we perceive another group, stereotypes, mistrust which lead to racial divisions. The heart of the problem is that what is regarded as natural and normal like solidarity, loyalties and bonds are located in ethnic identity which obviously vary from one ethnic group to another. For eg how we perceive another group, stereotypes, mistrust which lead to racial divisions. This implies that the political and institutional systems, citizenship must be set up in such a way to cope with the renegotiation of power across an ethnic boundary. This implies that the political and institutional systems, citizenship must be set up in such a way to cope with the renegotiation of power across an ethnic boundary.

17 Weaknesses contd The distribution of power must take into account the imperative for majorities and minorities to provide security for both. Economic and political problems arise when one ethnic group dominates state power. Eg the apartheid in South Africa, and other Asian and Pacific states The distribution of power must take into account the imperative for majorities and minorities to provide security for both. Economic and political problems arise when one ethnic group dominates state power. Eg the apartheid in South Africa, and other Asian and Pacific states Ethnicity is not necessarily destructive of democracy, however, it can undermine democracy when either the state of civil society or both is too weak to contain it. For eg ethnic conflicts in Malaysia, Fiji and Sri Lanka Ethnicity is not necessarily destructive of democracy, however, it can undermine democracy when either the state of civil society or both is too weak to contain it. For eg ethnic conflicts in Malaysia, Fiji and Sri Lanka Without citizenship cultural reproduction is threatened, without the state the framework for citizenship cannot operate. Without citizenship cultural reproduction is threatened, without the state the framework for citizenship cannot operate.

18 Relevance to the course This paper is relevant to the course because it gives us a historical analysis of how pre modern and modern states came into being, how people from smaller countries have totally lost their identity by merging with another or being lost in a bigger empire. We are losing some cultural values as globalisation continues to make an impact in the lives of smaller nation states. This paper is relevant to the course because it gives us a historical analysis of how pre modern and modern states came into being, how people from smaller countries have totally lost their identity by merging with another or being lost in a bigger empire. We are losing some cultural values as globalisation continues to make an impact in the lives of smaller nation states. As social and cultural structures built over time are slowly eroding, the state and civil society have to find a new role and new relationship as they are now targets of the impact of Globalisation which is eroding the tradition- driven belief systems. As social and cultural structures built over time are slowly eroding, the state and civil society have to find a new role and new relationship as they are now targets of the impact of Globalisation which is eroding the tradition- driven belief systems.


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