Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 498879
Title Constraining Is Enabling? Exploring the Influence of National Context on Civil Society Strength
Author(s) Kamstra, Jelmer; Pelzer, Ben; Elbers, Willem; Ruben, Ruerd
Source VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations (2016). - ISSN 0957-8765 - p. 1023 - 1044.
Department(s) LEI Programmamanagement
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2016
Keyword(s) Associational membership - Civil society - Cross-national analysis - Developing countries - Enabling environment - Multilevel analysis

This article analyses the influence of national context on civil society strength based on four key dimensions: level of democracy, political stability, rule of law and economic development. Whereas existing studies mainly focus on Western and post-communist countries, we explicitly include developing countries in our analysis. We use associational membership as proxy for civil society strength and include data of 53 countries. Rule of law, economic development and (to a lesser extent) political stability emerge from our multilevel regression models as the main factors affecting civil society membership. Unlike previous studies, we show that these relations are quadratic instead of linear. This means that where existing theories predict a drop in memberships in developing countries, we find a rise. In other words, harsh conditions actually strengthen civil society in terms of membership levels. We argue that this could be the case because reasons for CSO membership are essentially different in the developed and in the developing world. Contrary to theoretical assumptions, democratic rights do not appear critically important for civil society membership.

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