How Critical is Civil Society in the COVID-19 Control?

Publication Year : 2020

In Development Studies the idea of civil society has gained prominence over the last two decades. Normatively, civil society has been considered as an agent for limiting authoritative rule, spearheading social movements, minimizing unnerving impacts of market forces, ensuring political accountability, and improving governance. Hence, the definitions of civil society are diverse and rooted in competing social and political philosophies. According to one definition, civil societies articulate the relationship between state and family, dominated by voluntarily functioning social groups and organizations that have some autonomy in relation to the state. These operational social organizations advance their interests, values and identities. The state includes governments, judiciary, legislature, and armed forces. In late 1980s, UNDP, World Bank and other international development agencies adopted the term civil society into its discourse because of its inclusiveness, containing within its scope private sector. Civil society in the form of NGOs are more concerned with more specific and targeted interest-group issues such as women empowerment, environmental sustainability, human rights, poverty alleviation, and education. The forms of social organization as encompassed by the term civil society are varied: (i) associational which share an organizational objective, (ii) community-driven which are held together by social bonds and reciprocities, and (iii) interest groups defined along the axis of pursuits of economic interest and political power.