National University of Singapore Newsletter: Routledge Handbook of Civil Society in Asia

National University of Singapore newsletter (November, 2017) featuring interview with editor Akihiro Ogawa on the Routledge Handbook of Civil Society in Asia.


For the man-in-the-street, what is important about scholarship on civil society in Asia?

Civil society is an arena where grassroots people have access to public affairs. If we understand how civil society functions in our society, we will also understand whether citizens have access to politics; to shape governance. Actually this was my starting point for studying civil society almost two decades ago.

Since then, as a scholar, I have been arguing that civil society needs to be re-conceptualised from its Eurocentric origins as the idea often refers to a particular set of relationships between the state and individuals in the West. We know that each society moulds its own version of civil society, reflecting social relationships arising out of specific experiences.

The number of studies on civil society in Asia lags behind the abundant studies on the interconnections between economic and political spheres in the region, which provide evidence of deepening ties and interdependencies within Asia over recent decades. I believe the authors of the Handbook provide a good start for all of us to understand civil society in Asia….

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