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Accepted Paper:

Charitable Organisations, Democracy, and Social Cohesion: A Case Study in Cape Town  
Doruk Isikci (University of Cape Town)

Paper short abstract:

The paper provides a case study to examine the various manifestations of civil society regarding the social stratification South African society faces. The study claims that civil society does not always deliver the desired results as the normative approach suggests, but may result in the opposite.

Paper long abstract:

Civil society has emerged as an essential contributor to the transition to democracy in South Africa and is often regarded as a decisive factor in combating corruption, promoting democracy, and fostering trust, tolerance, and unity in the country by opinion leaders, scholars, media, and opposing political parties. However, the conceptualisation of civil society as a single entity has received little critical view and empirical confirmation in the literature. Rather, most stakeholders of civil society have developed diverse practices, aims, and understandings of civil society due to their disparate socioeconomic positions, spatial separation, as well as ethnic, religious, or racial differences. Recognising that civil society cannot be reduced to civil society organisations (CSOs), this study provides a case study concentrating on formal and informal charitable and development organisations, which are an integral and vibrant component of South African daily life to question various theoretical variants. This paper examines how CSOs comprehend the concept of civil society considering prominent theoretical debates, along with how they relate to the concepts such as democracy, social cohesion, and citizenship. It investigates a case-study of CSOs with different organisational forms in Cape Town, using document analysis, semi-structured interviews, participant observation, and a mini-survey of participants. Using this rich narrative data, the paper argues that, while CSOs play an important role in the development of democracy, active citizenship, and social formation quest in South Africa, they have also the ability to breed antidemocratic behaviour, xenophobia, or social divisions through approaching civil society through a context-dependent lens.

Panel Econ15
Postcolonial civil society in Mozambique: who does it serve?
  Session 1 Wednesday 31 May, 2023, -