The Constraints on Civil Society beyond the State: Gender-based Insecurity in Meghalaya, India

Original Paper

Abstract

The role of civil society is vital for politicizing, contesting, and addressing human insecurity, yet there is very little analysis of the ability of civil society actors to do so. Recent critical approaches to the concept have questioned the tendency to view civil society as an unequivocal good, yet the majority of these critiques still focus on civil society at a global level or on the enabling and disabling capacity of the state at the national level. This paper argues that civil society is constrained not only by the state but by local government and other actors from within civil society. Identity politics, power relations, and existing inequalities between and within communities affect the ability of formal and informal organizations to contest the causes of insecurity. This paper examines the role of civil society in addressing gender-based insecurity in the Indian state of Meghalaya to demonstrate the influence of these factors on civil society and concludes by arguing that civil society is a much more dynamic and contradictory sphere than is often recognized by both advocates and critics. These dynamics must be understood if the constraints on civil society are to be transcended.

Keywords

Civil society Human security Meghalaya India Identity politics Gender 

Résumé

Le rôle joué par la société civile est vital pour politiser, contester et prendre en considération l’insécurité perçue par les individus. Malgré cela, il existe très peu d’analyses émanant des acteurs de la société civile pour prendre en compte ce problème. Des approches critiques récentes de ce concept ont mis en question la tendance à percevoir la société civile comme un bien absolu. Malgré cela, la majorité de ces approches critiques persistent à considérer la société civile à une échelle globale, ou bien dans la capacité ou l’incapacité de l’état au niveau national. Cette étude montre que la société civile se trouve sous la contrainte non seulement de l’état mais aussi des collectivités locales et d’autres acteurs au sein de la société civile. Les politiques d’identité, les relations de pouvoir et les inégalités existantes, entre, et au sein des communautés, ont une incidence sur la capacité des organisations formelles et informelles pour contester les causes de l’insécurité. Cette étude examine le rôle de la société civile dans sa prise en compte de l’insécurité basée sur le sexe dans l’État indien de Meghalaya, ceci pour démontrer l’influence de ce facteur sur la société civile, et conclut en affirmant que la société civile est une sphère beaucoup plus dynamique et contradictoire que ne le pensent à la fois partisans et détracteurs. Ces dynamiques doivent être comprises pour que les contraintes sur la société civile soient transcendées.

Zusammenfassung

Die Zivilgesellschaft spielt eine entscheidende Rolle, um menschliche Unsicherheit zu politisieren, anzufechten und anzusprechen, aber die Fähigkeit der Akteure der Zivilgesellschaft, dies zu tun, ist wenig analysiert. Jüngste kritische Herangehensweisen an das Konzept stellen die Tendenz, die Zivilgesellschaft als nicht anzweifelbares Gut anzusehen, in Frage, aber die Mehrheit dieser Kritiken konzentriert sich immer noch auf die Zivilgesellschaft auf globaler Ebene oder auf die aktivierende und nicht aktivierende Funktion des Staates auf nationaler Ebene. Dieser Artikel argumentiert, dass die Zivilgesellschaft nicht nur vom Staat, sondern auch von der Kommunalverwaltung und anderen Akteuren innerhalb der Zivilgesellschaft eingeschränkt ist. Identitätspolitik, Machtverhältnisse und bestehende Ungleichheiten zwischen und innerhalb von Gemeinschaften beeinflussen die Fähigkeit von formellen und informellen Organisationen, die Gründe von Unsicherheiten anzufechten. Dieser Artikel untersucht die Rolle der Zivilgesellschaft bei der Ansprache geschlechtsspezifischer Unsicherheit im indischen Staat Meghalaya, um den Einfluss dieser Faktoren auf die Zivilgesellschaft zu demonstrieren, und er endet mit dem Argument, dass die Zivilgesellschaft eine viel dynamischere und widersprüchlichere Sphäre ist als oft von Befürwortern und Kritikern angenommen wird. Diese Dynamiken müssen verstanden werden, wenn die Einschränkungen der Zivilgesellschaft überwunden werden sollen.

Resumen

El papel de la sociedad civil es esencial para elaborar políticas, luchar y solucionar la inseguridad humana; sin embargo se ha investigado poco para averiguar si los actores de la sociedad civil están capacitados para ello. Recientes aproximaciones críticas a este concepto han cuestionado la tendencia a ver la sociedad civil como un bien inequívoco, sin embargo la mayoría de estas críticas están aún centradas en la sociedad civil a escala global o en la capacidad del estado para validar o invalidar a escala nacional. En este trabajo se afirma que la sociedad civil se ve limitada no sólo por el estado sino por el gobierno local y por otros actores de la misma sociedad global. Las políticas de identidad, las relaciones de poder y las desigualdades existentes entre las comunidades y en el seno de ellas, afectan la capacidad de las organizaciones (tanto formales como informales) para luchar contra las causas de la inseguridad. Este estudio examina el papel de la sociedad civil a la hora de solucionar inseguridades de género en el estado Indio de Meghalaya con objeto de demostrar la influencia de estos factores en la sociedad civil, y concluye argumentando que la sociedad civil es un entorno mucho más dinámico y contradictorio de lo que muchas veces reconocen sus defensores y detractores. Es necesario entender esta dinámica para comprender si es posible superar las restricciones que sufre la sociedad civil.

摘要

在人类不安定感的政治化、 争辩和解决过程中, 公民社会扮演了至关重要的角色, 但是对于公民社会参与者在这方面的能力, 现今却罕有研究。 近来, 对于认为公民社会绝对优越的趋势, 一些批评观点提出了质疑。 不过, 这些批评观点通常都在全球层面上关注公民社会, 或是在国家层面上关注政府的相关能力。 本文认为, 公民社会不仅受到整个国家机构的限制, 同时还受到地方政府和来自公民社会其他参与者的限制。 身份政治、 权力关系以及社会群体之间和内部所存在的各种不平等现象, 这些都影响了各种正式和非正式组织机构在促进社会安定方面的能力。 通过研究公民社会在解决印度梅加拉亚邦的基于性别的不安定因素过程所起的作用, 本文阐明了此类因素对公民社会的影响, 并得出结论: 公民社会远比其支持者和反对者目前所了解的更具动态和矛盾统一特性。 要想超越公民社会现有的束缚, 就必须充分了解这些动态原理。

要約

市民社会の役割は、 政治、 論争、 人間の不安感への取り組みが重要視されるが、 それを実現する市民社会の関係者の能力は分析されていない。 近年、 市民社会についての概念が明確ではないとの見解が出ているが、 市民社会の世界的なレベルもしくは国レベル、 州レベルでの実現性および非実現性に焦点が当てられている。 本論文は、 市民社会が州によって強要されるものではなく、 市民社会における地方自治体およびその他の関係者によって営まれることを論じる。 共同体における政治的独自性、 力関係、 存在する不平等によって、 公式組織および非公式組織の能力が牽引され、 この不安要因に取り組むことになる。 本論文では、 インドのメガラヤ州における性別による不安感を指摘し、 市民社会の役割を研究し、 市民社会の不安要因の影響を提示し、 市民社会の原動力と賛同者と批評家の認識の矛盾点について論じる。 市民社会の矛盾が明確になれば、 この原動力は理解されるものとする。

ملخص

دور المجتمع المدني أساسي لإضفاء الصفه السياسيه ٬التنافس في التصدي لإنعدام الأمن البشري ٬ مع ذلك هناك قليل جداً من التحليل على قدره الفعالين في الجتمع المدني على فعل ذلك . النهج النقدي الحديث إزاء هذا المفهوم شكك في الميل للنظر إلى المجتمع المدني على إنه بدون شك حسن٬ مع ذلك الأغلبيه من النقاد لا زالوا يركزوا على المجتمع المدني على المستوى العالمي أو على تمكين أو تعطيل القدرات للدوله على المستوى الوطني . هذا البحث يقول أن المجتمع المدني مقيد ليس فقط بالدوله و لكن بالحكومه المحليه وفعالين ٱخرين في المجتمع المدني . هويه السياسه ٬ علاقات السلطه ٬ اللا مساواه القائمه بين و في المجتمعات تؤثر على قدره المنظمات الرسميه و الغير رسميه للتصدي لأسباب عدم الأمان . هذا البحث يختبر دور المجتمع المدني في معالجه عدم الأمان القائم على نوع الجنس في شمال شرق الدوله الهنديه لإظهار تأثير هذه العوامل في المجتمع المدني و الإختتام بالقول أن المجتمع المدني أكثر فاعليه و تناقض عن ما هو معترف به في كثير من الأحيان من المؤيدين و النقاد . هذه الفاعليه يجب أن تفهم بناءاً على تخطي هذه القيود.

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Copyright information

© International Society for Third Sector Research and The Johns Hopkins University 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social Sciences and International StudiesUniversity of New South WalesKensingtonAustralia

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