• A
  • A
  • A
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
Regular version of the site

Article

The Changing Space for NGOs: Civil Society in Authoritarian and Hybrid Regimes

Toepler S., Zimmer A., Fröhlich C., Obuch K.

In this introductory essay to the special issue on civil society in authoritarian and hybrid regimes, we review core themes in the growing literature on shrinking or closing space for civil society. We discuss the role of civil society organizations (CSOs) as agents of democratization and note the emergence of dual, at times apparently conflicting policy postures within authoritarian regimes (restriction and repression for some CSOs vs. financial support and opportunities for collaboration for others). We posit that different conceptual perspectives applied to civil society can help account for the duality of authoritarian postures and examine repercussions for three key subgroups of CSOs: claims-making (or advocacy) NGOs, nonprofit service providers and regime-loyal NGOs supporting often populist and nationalist discourses.