To Be or Not to Be?”: Civil Society as “Insiders” in Politics

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"To Be or Not to Be?”: Civil Society as “Insiders” in Politics

Juree Vichit-Vadakarn*

A yet unresolved issue with regards to the role of civil society leaders as elected political actors actively participating in the political process requires careful thought and definitely more critical debates and soul searching among civil society members and supporters.

Although civil society has long engaged in social movements which often transform into political activities/movements, civil society’s traditional role has been outside the government/state. To serve as a voice of reason or a voice of dissent, to serve as society’s conscience or as a reminder of ethics and moderation, civil society has not been known to shy away from political advocacy or political agitation/mobilization for social change. However, one finds today in some developing countries an increased presence of civil society leaders in government. One also finds representation of civil society members in direct politics as in the green movement/green party in some developed, Northern countries.

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