NGOs and the Making of Youth Citizenship in Lebanon
The making of citizens and citizenship is a key feature of the modern nation-state, and in making citizens, states often target young people. Public education traditionally has been the primary means of training young citizens in the norms and skills required for full societal membership. But citizenship has never been the exclusive domain of the state. Rather, myriad non-state actors have played a part in inculcating youth with political values and virtues. The role of non-state actors has become even more salient in the present day with the proliferation of “civil society.” This may be particularly important in post-conflict societies, where state institutions may be partly superseded by international organizations and NGOs. Drawing on the case of post-civil war Lebanon, this chapter explores the kinds of youth-citizenship discourses and practices promoted by NGOs in post-conflict settings. At the same time, we use the case of Lebanon to highlight the limitations of NGO discourses in transforming political realities. Citizenship discourses, in this respect, are situated among and compete against multiple articulations and infrastructures of societal belonging. While the fragmentation and contested nature of citizenship is perhaps most evident in post-conflict societies, it is a feature of all national contexts.
KeywordsYouth citizenship NGOs Civil society Lebanon Post-conflict societies
This chapter is based on research funded through the British Council for Research in the Levant, the European Research Council (ERC-2011-AdG-295392), and the US Fulbright Foundation. That support is gratefully acknowledged.
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