Civil Society in Southeast Asia

edited by Lee Hock Guan

288 pp., illustrated
Available from NIAS Press in Europe

Paperback - 2004, Available
ISBN 978 87 91114 54 0, £17.99

• Argues that Western conceptions of civil society do not always apply in Asia.

• Discusses the latest ideas on this contentious issue.

The concept of 'civil society' has all the characteristics of an essentially contested concept. As such, despite the numerous discussions of and publications on this concept, no universally agreed-upon definition of civil society is likely to prevail, probably ever.

In the non-Western countries, ambiguities
in both the theories and practices of civil society are invariably generated by the varied and contested meanings of the concept of the Western tradition itself. Moreover, the varied non-Western contexts that formed and informed the concept differ a great deal from those found in Western societies.

However, what can be seen in this volume is that the Southeast Asian countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) provide an excellent example of where diverse colonial histories, ethnic, religious and cultural mix, economic developments, and state regimes readily offer a crucible to demonstrate how these factors would interact to shape the form and composition of civil

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