Interrogating the dynamics of cosmopolitan democracy in theory and practice: the case of Cambodia

Norman, David John (2011). Interrogating the dynamics of cosmopolitan democracy in theory and practice: the case of Cambodia. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.


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This thesis engages in a sympathetic critique of the critical (dialogical) dimension of cosmopolitan democracy and its idealisation of a specific form of global civil society (GCS) to contest the exclusionary practices of contemporary global governance. Drawing upon the work of Jürgen Habermas, the critical approach assumes civil society as a communicative (local) vehicle that draws from the lifeworld, to steer the systemic neoliberal modes of global governance. The thesis in contrast, describes a scenario resulting in the reversal of this logic; global neoliberal modes of rationality can actually colonise the communicative spaces of (local) civil society. To highlight this claim, a specific neoliberal global democratic project is examined to reveal two new roles for global civil society; professional service providers, and democratic watchdogs. These roles re-inscribe a new identity for civil society akin to the neoliberal form of systemic rationality. An empirical case study of these roles within Cambodian civil society is then undertaken to demonstrate how endogenous communicative spaces can be marginalised through exogenous neoliberal interventions. The thesis suggests that the critical cosmopolitan democratic project must reject its de-contextualised communicative assumptions of global civil society in order to retain its inclusionary ideal.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Government and Society, Department of Political Science and International Studies
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DS Asia
J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia


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