Civil Society, NGOs and the State

Subject DEVT90039 (2011)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2011.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2011.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 1 x 2-hour seminar per week.
Total Time Commitment: An average of 10 hours per week
Prerequisites: None.
Corequisites: None.
Recommended Background Knowledge: Students enrolling in this subjectmust be enrolled in a Masters by coursework degree.
Non Allowed Subjects: None.
Core Participation Requirements: For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:


Dr Nadeem Malik

Dr Erin Fitz-Henry

Subject Overview:

In the nearly two decades since the end of the Cold War, the world has witnessed a remarkable rejection of the big plans and projects that characterized the period of high-modernization that existed between the Bretton Woods pact of 1944 and the end of the par value system in 1971. In place of hydroelectric engineering feats, geographically based industrial zones, and political experiments in 'third world welfare states' a multitude of social policy initiatives and international development programs tied to smaller, more efficient, face to face, culturally appropriate, and voluntary civil society based organizations have proliferated. This has spawned a sea of buzzwords, acronyms, and theoretical assumptions such as social capital, capacity building, governance and accountability, empowerment, participatory development, and non-governmental, community based, and third sector organizations (NGOs, CBOs, and TSOs). These new civil society approaches to international development assistance have become hegemonic and ubiquitous across all sectors of the development industry from small grassroots organizations to large multilateral donors such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. For many policy scientists these changes represent a welcome move towards sustainability, development on a human scale, and an end to the outrageous geopolitically driven excesses of the Cold War. However, some have argued that these approaches are the harvest of an exhaustion of utopian energies, post-modern fatalism, and a retreat from enlightenment visions of rationalism, progress, and the perfectability of mankind. This subject will examine critically different perspectives.


Students who successfuly complete this subect will:

  • Recognise and explain key theories of the state, NGO's and civil society
  • Demonstrate a knowledge of the strengths, weaknesses, and embedded assumptions of these theories
  • Critique these major approaches and their critics, both externally and on their own terms

A 2000 word paper worth 30% (due at end of week 7), a 3000 word research paper 60% (due two weeks after the end of week 12), and a 15 minute group presentation 10% (working in a group on an allocated topic beginning in week 2 of semester)

Hurdle Requirement: Students are required to attend a minimum of 75% of classes in order to qualify to have their written work assessed. Students who fail to meet this hurdle requirement will be deemed ineligible to submit the final piece of assessment for this subject. Regular participation in class is required.

Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 2% per working day. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts:
  • Utopia Unarmed: The Latin American Left After the Cold War. (Castaneda, Jorge. ) New York: Knopf. 1993.
  • 'Forward' in Whose voice? Participatory research and policy change. (CHAMBERS, ROBERT . Edited by Jeremy Holland with James Blackburn.) London: Intermediate Technology.1998
  • It takes a village: And other lessons children teach us. (CLINTON, HILLARY R. ) New York: Simon & Schuster. 1996.
  • Blurred boundaries: The discourse of corruption, the culture of politics, and the imagined state. (GUPTA, AKHIL. ) American Ethnologist 1995. 22:375-402.
  • Change the World Without Taking Power. (HOLLOWAY, JOHN. ) Sterling VA: Pluto Press. 2002.
  • Bowling Alone: America's Declining Social Capital (PUTNAM, ROBERT D. J) Journal of Democracy. 1995. 6:1, 65-78.
Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

Students who successfully complete this subject should

  • work independently
  • communicate knowledge effectively
  • think creatively
  • prepare a research paper
Links to further information:
Related Course(s): Bachelor of Arts (Honours)(Media and Communications)
Master of Development Studies (Gender & Development)
Master of Development Studies(CWT)
Master of Global Media Communication
Postgraduate Diploma in Arts (Media and Communication)
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: 200 point program - full time over 18 months
200 point program - full time over 24 months
Development Studies
Development Studies
Development Studies
Media and Communications

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