Mapping civil society in the Phillipines

Mapping Civil Society in the Philippines

In countries where democracy underpins the constitutional order, civil society plays an important role in complementing the state and the private sector. Vibrant civil societies enable people from different backgrounds to organise and to promote their interests in association with others, to provide public goods and services otherwise unavailable and to hold governments to account.

But civil society remains the subject of significantly less academic scrutiny than the state and private sector. In advanced democracies and industrial economies, there are significant gaps in knowledge about the contribution of civil society organisations (CSOs) to national production or of the relative numbers, resources and capacities of different types of CSO. National accounts, for instance, still fail to capture the full economic significance of civil society activity. This information deficit is much greater in developing countries with significant consequences for the design of public policy.

A dense and vibrant civil society is an important attribute of a democratic and prosperous nation and developing countries concerned to promote human development must nurture their nascent civil societies. The exact policies, however, remain the subject of significant debate. This research therefore seeks to map out the multiple contours of civil society in the Philippines and it examines the institutional composition of Philippine civil society (ie the types of CSOs which constitute it and their numbers), the spatial distribution of CSOs, the main roles of CSOs (by organizational type) and their economic significance. It includes extensive study of the records of government agencies which register CSOs in the Philippines and interviews with CSO and government representatives. The research also explores the public policy implications of the data, including government policies to regulate, fund and sub-contract CSOs and to involve them in the design and implementation of government initiatives.    

The research uses quantitative and qualitative methods to explore civil society from a broader perspective than existing studies concerned with non-profit or third sector organisations. These are significant for their capture of the economic dimensions of much civil society activity but which fail to capture the activities of many CSO types including social movements and grass-roots or community organisations.

The research was undertaken between 2007 and 2009 and funded by the British Academy and the Association of Society Asian Studies. Initial results have been presented at conferences in the UK and the Netherlands and will be presented at the International Studies Associations annual conference in New Orleans in February 2010. Final results will be published by Routledge as a research monograph in 2011. 
For more information or to contact Dr Gerard Clarke, please visit his personal homepage.