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Civil society in a weak state: The political functions of associational life in Algeria 1987-2005.

Liverani, Andrea (2007) Civil society in a weak state: The political functions of associational life in Algeria 1987-2005. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This study analyses the significance of Algeria's associative sphere in the context of the state's attempts to retain legitimacy. Starting from a critique of portrayals of Algerian 'civil society' as a force conducive to democratization, and by framing the period under study in a broader historical perspective, the thesis examines the changing relationship of the state to voluntary associations in both the colonial and post-colonial eras. It considers the place of associational life in the political economy of economic reform, investigating the role it played in facilitating the state's retreat from service provision. Consideration of the notion that civic associations shape people's propensity towards cooperation and collective action, facilitating democratic politics through the injection of trust and social capital, provides the starting point for analyzing their internal dynamics and the incentives driving their functioning. A further examination of the social bases of the associative sphere then leads to questioning its independence from the state, and highlights the role of the associative sector in tempering the fracture between the state and those social groups that most suffered from the collapse of Algeria's post colonial political framework. A critical examination of the proposition that civil society organisations legitimate and strengthen representative political institutions such as parties and parliament provides the opportunity to show how the associative sphere contributed to preserving the dominance of the executive in the political system despite the introduction of multi-partism. Finally, the study analyses donors' use of advocacy and service-delivery associations in democracy-promotion programmes, arguing that their focus on the country's 'civil society' contributed to the state's efforts to preserve its international legitimacy. In this light, rather than a driver of democratic change, the associative sphere appears as one of the elements of conservation used by a weakened state to reacquire legitimacy and reinforce its capacity to secure voluntary acquiescence in its rule.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sociology, Social Structure and Development, North African Studies, Political Science, General
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses

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