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Civil society and post-communist democratization: facing a double challenge in post-Milošević Serbia

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Civil society literature attributes the weakness of post-communist civil society to the communist heritage. It is structurally weak, the argument goes, because post-communist citizens are averse to voluntary organizations and because of ethnic nationalism. This article goes beyond the heritage argument and contends that post-communist civil society is weakened by democratization itself. Post-communist democratizing states are fragmented structurally and ideologically, and lack a consensus on the liberal state as a provider of public goods and an inclusive citizenship. Simultaneously, the non-state sector in post-communism is expanding in both liberal and illiberal directions. While the liberal segments of the state respond to a liberal civil society, its illiberal segments reinforce an illiberal civil society. Consequently, 'good' civil society is forced to confront ideologically both the illiberal state and illiberal non-state groups, which limits its potential contribution to promoting good governance. The argument is illustrated by a study of civil society's transformation in post-Milošević Serbia and the struggle by liberal civil society groups for acceptance of responsibility for Serbian war crimes committed in the wars of Yugoslavia's disintegration in the 1990s.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/24241/

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