Balancing Independence and Neutrality : A Study of Civil Society and State Interaction

University essay from Högskolan Dalarna/Statsvetenskap

Abstract: Interaction between the civil society and the state has increased in modern democracies. This thesis analyzes the forms and dynamics of the interaction between civil society and governmental institutions in Skåne about the issue of refugee reception. This is done by examining two overarching research questions: 1. How, why and between which actors interaction occurs; and 2. How interaction develops over time and which factors influence the changing nature of the interaction. With the theoretical framework of civil society and state relations, governance, social movements and critical junctures, a research model is developed to analyze the case of interaction between the spheres in Skåne. The research model is based upon semi-structured interviews with governmental institutions and representatives from civil society organizations. The development of the interaction is described through the framework of critical junctures, showing the interaction developed with an intention of increased interaction and participation, while being cautious of the independence and neutrality of the civil society at the same time. The results show that the interaction occurs through partnership, networks, funding and personal informal interaction. Shared goals and the intention of increasing interaction because it is believed to better solve the complex problems are reasons for interaction. The empirical findings point at factors such as ideological affinity, structure, resources and experience to be important to gain access to the interaction. Another important conclusion is the lack of representation of certain valuable perspectives, such as Muslim organizations or free churches. The issue of representation stems mostly from structural factors and lack of resources. Relations between the civil society and governmental institutions in Skåne has grown closer, and the interaction is complex and dynamic. Together, the spheres address the complex issue of refugee reception. It is characterized by a mutual respect and an awareness of the necessity of an independent and neutral civil society. In spite of problems with representation, the interaction does facilitate knowledge exchange and increases adaptability to complexity. It has increased the overall participation in interaction between the spheres.

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