IIAS Newsletter 45 Autumn 2007

On the independence of civil society: the case of the Philippines

Niels Mulder

Hedman, Eva-Lotta E. 2006. In the Name of Civil Society: From Free Election Movements to People Power in the Philippines. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, xiv + 268 pages. ISBN 0 8248 2921 2

Over the past two decades, countless pens have been put to paper by the idea of a self-organising civil society as a check on state power and, from a Tocquevillean perspective, an indispensable condition for democracy. While the idea has merit, too often it leads to a mechanical opposition of civil society and state. In the case of the Philippines, state-society dynamics have been obfuscated, even as many analysts have attempted to get at the roots of what is at first glance a strikingly mismanaged state unable to provide basic services (education, health, justice, security, infrastructure). How, many analysts asked, could such an apparently ‘weak’ state maintain itself?

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