Civil Society, NGOs and the State

Subject DEVT90039 (2012)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2012.

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

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2012:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable


Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 1 x 2-hour seminar per week.
Total Time Commitment:

An average of 10 hours per week





Recommended Background Knowledge:

Students enrolling in this subjectmust be enrolled in a Masters by coursework degree.

Non Allowed Subjects:


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 Erin Fitz-Henry


Dr Erin Fitz-Henry

Subject Overview:

Over the course of the last thirty years, an 'associational revolution' has swept the world, as more and more civil society organizations have taken over tasks formerly assigned to states, formed cross-boder advocacy campaigns to hold both states and corporations accountable for labor, environmental, and human rights violations, and formulated alternative development policies that run counter to the paradigms espoused by the World Bank and other multilateral lending organizations. While some argue that this associational revolution promises more particpatory, expedient, and decentralized forms of transnational governance, others contend that it reflects little more than the ongoing privatization of the public sphere at the hands of transnational capital. In this course, we evaluate these and alternative perspectives by exploring transformations in the structure of the global political-economy over the past thirty years; looking closely at the roles played by a variety of NGOs and CBOs as part of more multi-layered regimes of 'global governance'; analyzing the shifts in state structures that have made these regimes possible; and teasing apart the ongoing tensions between various factions of what some have called, an emerging 'global civil society'. Case studies will be drawn from Africa, South Asia, and Latin America.


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 1500 word essay (30%) due in week 7, a 500 word research proposal (10%) due towards the end of sememster, and a 3000 word final research paper (60%) due during the examination period.

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 that is submitted after the due date and up to 10 working days late without an approved extension will be marked on a pass/fail basis only. Assessment that is submitted later than 10 working days will not be accepted or marked. 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
Master of Journalism
Postgraduate Diploma in Arts (Media and Communication)
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: 150 point program - full time over 18 months
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

Download PDF version.