Wells-Dang, Andrew (2011)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
This thesis re-conceptualises civil society as a process of cross-sectoral networking and alliance building among individual activists and organisations. Civil society networks are built on personal connections and develop into flexible, often informal structures that engage in path-breaking advocacy with authorities and elites. In the challenging political contexts of China and Vietnam, civil society networks have brought about significant social change. The findings of extensive fieldwork in both countries demonstrate a wider range of advocacy techniques and strategies than previously documented in one-party authoritarian political systems. Four in-depth qualitative case studies are presented to illustrate a range of network structures, histories and advocacy strategies: the Bright Future Group of people with disabilities (Vietnam), Women’s Network against AIDS (China), the Reunification Park public space network (Vietnam), and the China Rivers Network. Research questions concern how civil society networks form, how they operate, and what strategies they select to influence and interact with state actors and other stakeholders, as well as how network members evaluate the effectiveness of their actions. The thesis concludes with comparative evaluations of the case studies and recommendations for donors and international partners to support networks that form organically.
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