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Revolutionary, advocate, agent, or authority: context-based assessment of the democratic legitimacy of transnational civil society actors

By Christopher L. Pallas


The literature on transnational civil society encompasses a number of conflicting views regarding civil society organizations' (CSOs) behavior and impacts and the desirability of civil society involvement in international policymaking. This piece suggests that this lack of consensus arises from the diverse range of contexts in which CSOs operate and the wide variety of activities in which they engage. This article seeks to organize and analyze the disparate data on civil society by developing a context-based standard of democratic legitimacy for CSOs. The article disaggregatcs democracy into input, throughput, and output components, and shows how CSOs must support or manifest different aspects of democracy in order to be democratically legitimate in a given context. Applying this standard to existing works, the article identifies several problems in current research, including a failure to recognize ways the democratic imperatives of transnational advocacy differ from national advocacy, and the potential for international civil society interventions to undermine local democratic processes

Topics: HM Sociology, HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Publisher: Co-Action Publishing (with support from The Swedish Research Council and The Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research)
Year: 2010
DOI identifier: 10.3402/egp.v3i3.4882
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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