CIVICUS Civil Society Index

An international action-research project by and for civil society

CSI Staff published in the Journal of Civil Society

Posted by civilsocietyindex on June 24, 2009

writingThe CSI team is pleased to alert partners and stakeholders to a publication written by Jacob Mati from the CSI research team, which has recently been published in the Journal of Civil Society.


The last few decades have witnessed the emergence of global civil society advocacy networks as major players in global governance. The Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) is one of the recent phenomena in this arena and epitomizes high-level involvement of a multiplicity of actors in GCAP, with various multilateral governance institutions, as well as states.

This article analyses the origins of GCAP, motivations for its formation, evolution, and operations, with specific references to its structures and architecture. It argues that alliances are very different from ‘normal’ forms of organizations because they are made up of diverse forms of organizations, coming together voluntarily to achieve a specific purpose and therefore are by their very nature complex, unstable, and difficult to co-ordinate. The result of such, within GCAP, is an organization that is somewhat amorphous and exhibits both aspects of anti-systemic protest (in Polanyian terms) as well as a pacifying force (part of the hegemonic historic block in Gramcsian terms).

I argue that the loose nature of global civil society alliances is a positive contributor to mass mobilization but causes frustrations in decision-making and actions. This, in effect, calls for a more bureaucratized and institutionalized architecture, albeit with a potential to alienate some constituencies. A key lesson from GCAP’s evolution, structures, and strategies, I posit, is that it is not possible to push through individual positions without compromising so as to accommodate others.


Jacob M. Mati, ‘A Cartography of a Global Civil Society Advocacy Alliance: The Case of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty.’ Journal of Civil Society Vol. 5, No. 1, 81–103, June 2009.
ISSN 1744-8689 Print/1744-8697 Online/09/010081–23 # 2009 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10.1080/17448680902925661

About the Journal of Civil Society:

Journal of Civil Society is the leading academic voice for research and policy analysis on civil society. As a peer-reviewed journal with demanding standards, JCS provides a high profile, high impact outlet for world-class scholarship and debate on civil society, and serve as the authoritative source for research in an emerging field that lacks a central organ for dissemination.

Civil society is a contested concept. There is little agreement on its precise meaning, though much overlap exists among core conceptual components. In its transnational dimension, the term goes beyond the notion of both nation state and national society, and allows us to examine critical aspects of globalisation and the emergence of a new social, cultural and political sphere.

JCS seeks to improve the theoretical understanding and empirical knowledge of civil society, its nature, patterns and composition, its history, development, and relationships with the economy, the political system and society at large. A major focus of the journal is to encourage and inform the range of scholarships and approaches on civil society across disciplines and national as well as cultural boundaries.

Specifically, JCS welcomes research and contributions on the history and evolution of civil society in different world regions, at local and regional levels, types, forms and expressions of civil society, empirical work on structure and change of civil society, mapping the contours and dimensions of civil society, theoretical and conceptual studies, comparative analysis, inter and cross disciplinary approaches, policy analysis, institutions, community, social inequality, social inclusion, social justice, social and cultural capital, economy, governance and democracy.


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