On the Political Relevance of Global Civil Society

Richard Falk

in Making Globalization Good

Published in print April 2003 | ISBN: 9780199257010
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191596223 | DOI:
 On the Political Relevance of Global Civil Society

Show Summary Details


Richard Falk considers the changing role of civil society as an institution influencing the form and content of global capitalism (GC), particularly its goals and values. This is a critical chapter, which, after placing the whole range of NGO (non‐governmental organization) functions within a historical context, acknowledges that, as values and aspirations change, new demands are made on the organizations comprising these institutions. The implications of GC are given especial attention: how far, and in what respects, are NGOs (including global NGOs) twenty‐first century moral guardians (cf. governments and markets); and/or to what extent do they need to be injected with a new or reconfigured code of behaviour suitable to the particular needs of the global economy? Falk believes that global civil society has an important role to play in influencing the course and content of global capitalism, and its underlying ethical ethos. He particularly favours a globalization‐from‐below approach, which he believes provides a useful counter‐force to the globalization‐from‐above approach practised by large firms and governments; in elaborating this view, he makes the case for a normative democracy––which reconnects politicians with moral purpose and values. He then goes on to identify the components of normative democracy, and argues that most of these can best be served not by globalization‐from‐above mechanisms, but rather by those of civil society as it redefines its role as mediating between the logic of capitalism and the priorities of peoples.

Keywords: capitalism; civil society; codes of behaviour; democracy; ethics; global capitalism; global economy; global society; globalization; morality; NGO; non‐governmental organization; normative democracy; values

Chapter.  10367 words. 

Subjects: International Economics

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.