Civic Literacy in Global Civil Society: Excluding the Majority from Democratic Participation

  • Henry Milner
Part of the International Political Economy Series book series (IPES)


In this chapter I address the potential contradiction between the goals and institutional means associated with global civil society (GCS) and the accomplishments of traditional nation-state-based institutions with regard to what I term civic literacy. The level of civic literacy, simply put, corresponds to the proportion of a society’s citizens capable of informed political participation. High civic literacy, I argue, contributes to social improvement especially by empowering those at the bottom. The fundamental question is whether we can imagine global institutions and organizational actors that would reproduce, at the transnational level, outcomes associated with high civic literacy that are still today attained through institutions based on nation-states. I argue that we cannot, and that, in their emphasis on global organizational action, GCS activists and thinkers acutely underestimate, and thus risk helping to undermine, the organizational nexus provided by national political arenas and outcomes associated with them.


Welfare State Nordic Country Adult Education Daily Newspaper Civic Education 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2003

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  • Henry Milner

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