- Dissident writings as political theory on civil society and democracy
- Review of International Studies
- Volume | Issue number
- 38 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
This article offers an analysis of precisely how civil society and its relation to democracy were conceptualised by its East European and South American proponents in their pre-democratic contexts, through an examination of declarations, newspaper articles, samizdat essays, diaries, letters from prison, academic articles and prize acceptance speeches written at the time. The analysis of these source materials is organised under three main themes: the first concerns activists' understanding of the nature of the regime, its aims and its relation to society; the second relates to the features of the emergent civil society the writers of these documents desired, observed, and helped to create; and the final section discusses their strategies and aspirations in relation to ‘democratisation’. On the basis of an analysis of commonalities in ideas across these two very different regional and ideological contexts, hypotheses are formulated as building blocks for a political theory of civil society under authoritarian rule, which may apply in yet other, contemporary contexts.
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