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Measuring the Enabling Environment of Civil Society: A Global Capability Index

  • Lorenzo FioramontiEmail author
  • Olga Kononykhina
Original Paper

Abstract

During the last two decades, there have been various attempts at measuring and assessing the health of civil society. Some have focused almost exclusively on ‘counting’ the nonprofit, while others have assessed the strength of nongovernmental organizations. Yet, these sectors are just a small part of a much larger environment. Moreover, they are the result of Western conceptualizations of civil society, thus not very helpful for one to understand civic participation in non-Western settings. Taking stock of these fundamental issues, this article presents the conceptual framework and methodology of a new global index to measure the ‘enabling environment’ of civil society, rather than its forms and institutional contours. Given the inherent diversity of civil societies worldwide, which defies any attempt at developing predetermined definitions, understanding the conditions that support civic participation becomes the most important objective for those interested in promoting a strong civil society arena. The index was launched by CIVICUS in late 2013 with the name of enabling environment index and covers over 200 countries and territories, making it the most ambitious attempt ever made at measuring civil society worldwide.

Keywords

Civil society Measurement Assessment Comparative analysis Capabilities Enabling environment 

Résumé

Les deux dernières décennies ont vu apparaître diverses tentatives de mesure et d’évaluation de la santé de la société civile. Certaines se sont concentrées exclusivement sur le secteur à but non lucratif alors que d’autres ont évalué la force des organisations non gouvernementales. Pourtant, ces secteurs ne sont qu’une petite partie d’un environnement bien plus vaste. Ils résultent en outre de conceptualisations occidentales de la société civile et ne sont donc pas très utiles pour comprendre la participation civique dans un cadre non occidental. Tout en dressant l’état des lieux de ces problèmes fondamentaux, cet article présente le cadre conceptuel et la méthodologie d’un nouvel indice global visant à mesurer l’ « environnement favorable » de la société civile plutôt que ses formes et ses contours institutionnels. La diversité inhérente des sociétés civiles dans le monde voue toute tentative d’élaboration de définitions prédéterminées à l’échec. Dès lors, comprendre les conditions qui favorisent la participation civique devient l’objectif le plus important aux yeux des personnes intéressées par la promotion d’une société civile forte. Cet indice a été lancé par CIVICUS à la fin de l’année 2013 sous le nom de Enabling Environment Index (Indice d’environnement favorable). Il couvre 200 pays et territoires et constitue ainsi la tentative la plus ambitieuse jamais faite pour évaluer la société civile mondiale.

Zusammenfassung

In den vergangenen zwei Jahrzehnten wurden diverse Versuche unternommen, um die Funktionstüchtigkeit der Bürgergesellschaft zu bemessen und zu bewerten. Dabei konzentrierten sich einige nahezu ausschließlich darauf, die Gemeinnützigkeit zu „kalkulieren“, während andere die Stärke der nicht-staatlichen Organisationen bewerteten. Doch sind diese Bereiche lediglich ein kleiner Bestandteil eines weitaus größeren Umfelds. Sie sind darüber hinaus das Ergebnis westlicher Konzeptualisierungen der Bürgergesellschaft und folglich nicht sonderlich hilfreich, um die Bürgerbeteiligung im nicht westlichen Kontext zu verstehen. Der vorliegende Beitrag zieht die Bilanz aus dieser grundsätzlichen Problematik und präsentiert die konzeptuellen Rahmenbedingungen und Methodik eines neuen globalen Index, der die „günstigen Rahmenbedingungen“für die Bürgergesellschaft, statt ihre Formen und institutionellen Abgrenzungen misst. Angesichts der Diversität der weltweiten Bürgergesellschaften, die sich einem jeglichen Versuch zur Entwicklung prädeterminierter Definitionen widersetzt, wird das Verständnis der Bedingungen zur Förderung der Bürgerbeteiligung zum wichtigsten Ziel für all diejenigen, die an der Unterstützung eines geeigneten Umfelds für die Bürgergesellschaft interessiert sind. Der Index wurde Ende 2013 von CIVICUS unter dem Namen Enabling Environment Index eingeführt und ist mit der Erfassung von 200 Ländern und Regionen der ausgereifteste Versuch, der jemals unternommen wurde, um die Bürgergesellschaft weltweit zu bemessen.

Resumen

Durante las dos últimas décadas, ha habido varios intentos de medir y evaluar la salud de la sociedad civil. Algunos se han centrado casi exclusivamente en “contar” las organizaciones sin ánimo de lucro mientras que otros han evaluado la fortaleza de las organizaciones no gubernamentales. Sin embargo, estos sectores son sólo una pequeña parte de un entorno mucho más grande. Asimismo, son el resultado de conceptualizaciones occidentales de la sociedad civil, y por lo tanto no son muy útiles para comprender la participación cívica en escenarios no occidentales. Evaluando estas cuestiones fundamentales, el presente artículo presenta el marco conceptual y la metodología de un nuevo índice global para medir el “entorno habilitante” de la sociedad civil, en lugar de sus formas y contornos institucionales. Dada la diversidad inherente a las sociedades civiles a nivel mundial, que desafía cualquier intento de desarrollar definiciones predeterminadas, comprender las condiciones que apoyan la participación cívica se convierte en el objetivo más importante para aquellos interesados en promover un ámbito fuerte para la sociedad civil. El presente índice fue lanzado por CIVICUS a finales de 2013 con el nombre de Índice de Entorno Habilitante y cubre 200 países y territorios, convirtiéndolo en el intento más ambicioso realizado hasta la fecha para medir la sociedad civil a nivel mundial.

摘要

过去二十年来,人们进行了各种尝试以测量和评估公民社会的健康程度。其中一些几乎专注于非盈利的“计数”,而其他则评估非盈利组织的实力。然而,这些领域仅是更大环境的较小部分。此外,它们是西方公民社会概念化的结果,从而对了解非西方环境的公民参与没有多大作用。考虑到这些基本问题,本文介绍了全新的全球索引的概念性框架和方法,以测量公民社会的“使能环境”,而不是其形式和制度轮廓。假定全球公民社会的固有多样性,这使得无法尝试开发既定定义,了解支持公民参与的条件成为促进强大公民社会舞台人员的最重要目标。该索引由CIVICUS于2013年末发布,名称是“使能环境索引”,并覆盖200个国家和地区,使其成为测量全球公民社会的最大尝试。

要約

過去 20 年間で、市民社会の健康を測定かつ評価する様々な試みがあった。非営利団体の強さを評価しながら、非営利団体の「カウント」に焦点を当てている。これらの分野は大きな環境のほんの一部である。さらに、市民社会の西欧の概念化の結果から、非西洋における市民参加を理解するには有用ではないといえる。これらの根本的な問題から判断して、本論文では形態と制度の輪郭よりも市民社会で「環境の可能性」を測定する新しいグローバルインデックスの方法論と概念的枠組みを提示する。あらかじめ決められた定義を市民社会の多様性だと考えると、市民社会をサポートする状況を理解することは、強い市民の社会の活動領域の推進に興味を持つ者にとって重要な目的となる。2013年に可能な環境のインデックス(Enabling Environment Index)であるシビカス(CIVICUS)によるインデックスが開始されたが、世界の市民社会を測定する最も野心的な試みであるといえる。

ملخص

على مدى العقدين الماضيين ، كانت هناك محاولات مختلفة في قياس وتقييم صحة المجتمع المدني. لقد ركزت بعضها بشكل حصري تقريبا˝ على ‘ عد ‘ المنظمات الغير ربحية في حين أن آخرين قاموا بتقييم قوة المنظمات الغير حكومية. حتى الآن، هذه القطاعات هي مجرد جزء صغير من بيئة أكبر من ذلك بكثير. علاوة على ذلك ، فهي نتيجة لتصورات غربية للمجتمع المدني ، بالتالي ليس من المفيد جدا˝ أن نفهم المشاركة المدنية في إعدادات غير غربية. حصر هذه القضايا الأساسية، تعرض هذه المقالة الإطار ذو العلاقة بالمفاهيم العقلية والمنهجي لمؤشر عالمي جديد لقياس “ تمكين البيئة “ للمجتمع المدني ، بدلا˝ من أشكاله و معالمة المؤسسية. نظرا˝ للتنوع المتأصل في المجتمعات المدنية في جميع أنحاء العالم ، الذي يتحدى أي محاولة لوضع تعاريف محددة سلفا˝ ، فهم الظروف التي تدعم المشاركة المدنية يصبح الهدف الأهم للراغبين في تعزيز ساحة مجتمع مدني قوي . تم إطلاق المؤشر عن طريق (CIVICUS) في أواخر عام 2013 مع إسم مؤشر تمكين البيئة و يغطي 200 بلد وإقليم، مما يجعلها أكثر المحاولات طموحا˝ على الإطلاق في قياس المجتمع المدني في جميع أنحاء العالم .

Notes

Acknowledgments

The research described in this article was conducted in partnership with CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation. The authors would therefore like to thank the CIVICUS team, particularly, Danny Sriskandarajah, Ciana-Marie Pegus and Katsuji Imata. The authors would also like to thank Leonardo Arriola from the University of California at Berkeley for his comments on the preliminary versions of this article. Final thanks are also due to the three anonymous reviewers for their observations and suggestions.

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Copyright information

© International Society for Third-Sector Research and The Johns Hopkins University 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation, Department of Political SciencesUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa
  2. 2.Hertie School of GovernanceBerlinGermany

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