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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Civil Society, Locality and Globalization in Rural Tanzania: A Forty-Year Perspective
Author:Gibbon, Peter
Periodical:Development and Change
Geographic term:Tanzania
Subjects:political systems
Abstract:Civil society has become the subject of much debate and a vast literature. This article focuses on two aspects of the current discussion on civil society relating especially to less developed countries (LDCs). The first concerns is general nature. Is civil society to be understood as a counterpart to liberal-democratic political systems and to this extent specifically Northern? Or is it a layer of social reality present in all capitalist social formations, whether liberal-democratic or not? The second aspect concerns recent changes in LDC civil societies, corresponding to the current phase of globalization. Are there transformations which are specific to this phase, as opposed to earlier ones? These questions are addressed in relation to a comparison between the civil societies of rural northern Tanganyika/Tanzania in the late 1950s and those of the late 1990s. Both these interludes coincided with relaxations of previously active efforts by the State to suppress independent social organization. The article is organized into four main sections. In the first, a series of propositions concerning civil society and its transformations are developed in critical dialogue with mainstream approaches to the same subjects, especially as these have concerned Africa. This is followed by a discussion of the literature concerning the 'local' and supra-local in certain LDC civil societies in the late colonial and present periods. The third section sketches the landscapes of rural civil society in Tanzania at the two points in time. In the final section, an interpretation of the two periods and the differences between them is advanced, in a context of a discussion that returns to some of the theoretical issues raised in the first two sections. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum.