CONTEXTUALIZING CIVIL SOCIETY:
A KYRGYZSTAN CASE STUDY

Firdous DAR


Firdous Dar, D.Sc. (Political Science), Associate Professor, Center of Central Asian Studies, University of Kashmir (Srinagar, India)


ABSTRACT

The idea of civil society has achieved prominence in political and developmental discourse over the past two decades, particularly in connection with the successive waves of democratization, beginning in Latin America and Eastern Europe and spreading across the developing world. Civil society is an arena where, through free and civilized interaction and communication, individuals obtain and exercise their freedom, as well as pursue their interests. It is a space where people are given an opportunity to enter into social relations free from state interference. The fall of the U.S.S.R. has fundamentally altered the conditions for the emergence of civil society on a global level. The changed political map of Central Asia in general and Kyrgyzstan in particular has made it possible to carry out democratic reforms and, within this political context, various autonomous social organizations have emerged and begun creating their space in the political system. During the past two decades, open political regimes have been providing a more appropriate context within which civil societies are able to thrive. Such systems have provided a legal and regulatory framework guaranteeing the rights of social groups; they permit the existence of lively media, enabling social organizations to communicate their values and programs; and their political elites are acting in ways that reinforce the acceptance of social diversity and political differences. In this context, the present article is an attempt to shed some light on the different models of civil society emerging in the context of Kyrgyzstan.

Keywords: civil society, NGOs, liberal civil society, communal civil society, Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia, donors.

Introduction

In the past decade, the concept of civil society has gained considerable attention. The revival of civil society is related to the struggle of the democratic oppositions in Eastern Europe against authoritarian socialist party-states. There are too many reasons to present, however: the disintegration of the U.S.S.R., the good governance initiative of the World Bank under a structural adjustment program, and


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