IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Can We be Civil? The Proliferation of Global Plural Society


  • Gilligan Daniel

    (University of Durham)


This article questions the notion that the proliferation of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) should be regarded as the vanguard of a new global civil society. It begins by suggesting that the definition of global civil society is confused, at best, and offers competing and largely incompatible understandings of it alongside a retrospective on the political thought of Hannah Arendt, David Chandler, and Ernest Gellner, and the English School of International Relations. This illustrates the ways by which the undemocratic structure of NGOs lead to internal conflicts that often cause them to splinter, with losers leaving to form their own organization. The result is that NGOs are actually contributing a diverse set of mores, rather than a new set of global norms. This growth then can be better understood as atomization, and as much of a hindrance as a help to the formation of a more civil world. It takes the growing criticism of the democratic deficit in Global NGOs a step further from a question of legitimacy to a problem of functionality.

Suggested Citation

  • Gilligan Daniel, 2012. "Can We be Civil? The Proliferation of Global Plural Society," New Global Studies, De Gruyter, vol. 6(1), pages 1-28, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:nglost:v:6:y:2012:i:1:p:28:n:1

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: For access to full text, subscription to the journal or payment for the individual article is required.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bpj:nglost:v:6:y:2012:i:1:p:28:n:1. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Peter Golla). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.