Civil societies have been more or less neglected in the debate on regionalism and regionalisation. This paper takes civil society seriously. Building further on the new regionalism approach (NRA), the paper analyses ongoing civil society regionalisation processes in Southern Africa that have intensified since the late 1990s. It is shown that there are growing numbers of important and influential civil society actors all over Southern Africa, which are becoming increasingly sophisticated, powerful, skilled and organized. It is therefore necessary to transcend the current obsession with the national sphere and national civil society, and recognize a considerably more complex and multifaceted transnational picture. These processes are particularly strong in sectors such as the environment and resource management, economic justice and debt networks, health and HIV/AIDS, media, democracy and human rights, trade unions, and regional research and education networks. The analysis highlights the pluralism and paradoxes within civil society as such, but also the complex relations between regional civil societies and governments/states-led regionalism, on the one hand, and between regional civil societies and external actors (states, aid agencies and INGOs) on the other.
SAMHÄLLSVETENSKAP -- Annan samhällsvetenskap -- Tvärvetenskapliga studier (hsv//swe)
SOCIAL SCIENCES -- Other Social Sciences -- Social Sciences Interdisciplinary (hsv//eng)