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Making sense of “weakness” of post-communist civil society: Individual vs. organized engagement in civil advocacy in the Czech Republic

Listed author(s):
  • Jirí Navrátil


    (Department of Public Economics, Masaryk University)

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    Starting point of this paper is alleged weakness of civil society in Central-Eastern European countries as often demonstrated by sparse organizational infrastructure, low membership in civil society organizations (CSOs), or insufficient community activism and privatism of citizens in these countries. This paper focuses on the Czech Republic and claims, first, that there is a considerable discrepancy in the citizens´ engagement in organized civil society activities depending on whether these are perceived as political (advocacy) or not, and second, that the gap between organized and individual engagement within the field of civil advocacy does not necessarily stem (only) from the “legacy of communism” but (also) from the dissidents´ conception of “non-political” civil society. The paper deals with the empirical analysis of EVS data, original survey data (N=800), and focus group interviews. It aims at understanding what the motives of citizens and advocacy CSOs for keeping their distance are. Furthermore, the paper attempts to sketch more general causes of this disconnectedness through illustrating the roots of the conflict between the categories of collective/individual and political/ethical in the Czech history of thinking about civil society.

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    Paper provided by Masaryk University, Faculty of Economics and Administration, Department of Public Economics in its series Working Papers with number 02.

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    Length: 42 pages
    Date of creation: Dec 2012
    Date of revision: Mar 2013
    Handle: RePEc:mub:wpaper:02
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    1. Oecd, 2001. "Understanding the Digital Divide," OECD Digital Economy Papers 49, OECD Publishing.
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