© 2017

Civil Society and Mirror Images of Weak States

Bangladesh and the Philippines

  • Tests the common assumption that capacity building civil society is effective in strengthening democratisation

  • Points the way to some hard re-thinking about approaches to development assistance

  • Provides an original contribution to the field by combining thorough theoretical examination with examination of two dissimilar case studies


Part of the Governance and Limited Statehood book series (GLS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Jasmin Lorch
    Pages 1-30
  3. Jasmin Lorch
    Pages 31-70 Open Access
  4. Jasmin Lorch
    Pages 231-267
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 269-280

About this book


This book investigates theoretically and empirically whether and (if so) how state weakness influences the way in which national civil societies constitute themselves, using Bangladesh and the Philippines as case studies. A vibrant civil society is usually perceived as an important ingredient of democracy, but does this hold for civil society in weak states as well? What does civil society look like in contexts of state weakness? How much and what kind of political influence does it have in such settings? And are its actors really capable and willing to contribute to democracy in states where independent and legal bureaucratic institutions are weak? Addressing each of these questions, the author points the way to some hard re-thinking about the basis for and approach to development assistance to and via local civil society, with crucial repercussions for the ways in which international development assistance is designed and funded.
The chapter 'Analysing Civil Society in Weak States' is open access under a CC BY 4.0 license via


Normative theory Policy discourse Power centre competition Patronage Corruption Violence Insecurity Foreign aid International development cooperation Civil society Weak States Bangladesh Philippines

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.German Institute of Global and Area StudiesHamburgGermany

About the authors

Jasmin Lorch is affiliated with the GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies in Hamburg. She was previously Research Associate at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP, Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik) and the Collaborative Research Center (SFB 700) on ‘Governance in Areas of Limited Statehood’ in Berlin, Germany.

Bibliographic information

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