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Civil Society, NGOs and the State (DEVT90039)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codeDEVT90039
Semester 1
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

Over the course of the last thirty years, an 'associational revolution' has swept the world, as more and more civil society organizations have taken over tasks formerly assigned to states, formed cross-border advocacy campaigns to hold both states and corporations accountable for labor, environmental, and human rights violations, and formulated alternative development policies that run counter to the paradigms espoused by the World Bank and other multilateral lending organizations. While some argue that this associational revolution promises more participatory, expedient, and decentralized forms of transnational governance, others contend that it reflects little more than the ongoing privatization of the public sphere at the hands of transnational capital. In this course, we evaluate these and alternative perspectives by exploring transformations in the structure of the global political-economy over the past thirty years; looking closely at the roles played by a variety of NGOs and CBOs as part of more multi-layered regimes of 'global governance'; analyzing the shifts in state structures that have made these regimes possible; and teasing apart the ongoing tensions between various factions of what some have called, an emerging 'global civil society'. Case studies will be drawn from Africa, South Asia, and Latin America.

Intended learning outcomes

Students who successfuly complete this subect will:

  • Recognise and explain key theories of the state and civil society (liberal, post-Marxist, etc.).
  • Demonstrate a knowledge of the strengths, weaknesses, and embedded assumptions of these theories.
  • Demonstrate a critical awareness of the shifts in global governance that have contributed to the NGO ‘revolution.’
  • Be able to analyse the range of challenges and opportunities facing civil society organizations in today’s policy environment.

Generic skills

Students who successfully complete this subject should:

  • work independently;
  • communicate knowledge effectively;
  • think creatively;
  • prepare a research paper.

Last updated: 3 April 2019