Promoting Grass-roots Activism or a "divided Civil Society"? Western Strategies of Supporting Civil Society in Ukraine

Susann Worschech, worschech.pdf

Civil society empowerment can be regarded a central aspect of the European Union's democratizing policy towards Ukraine. But while the EU's activities of supporting Ukrainian civil society have been largely analyzed, scholars have paid little attention to the great diversity of external support. Besides the EU and other multilateral organisations, development agencies and foundations, many embassies of European and other western countries do play a key role in providing grants and promoting ideas of civic activism. This diversity of organisations supporting civic activism does imply a diversity of strategies pursued to empower civil society. However, a systematic and comparative investigation of those non-Ukrainian actors who support Ukrainian civil society and their repertoires and strategies is still needed. Consequently, research should also show how civil society actors manage to deal with the plurality of their supporters' approaches and aims, and what are outcomes of the diversity of funding.In my paper, I will address these aspects based on extensive empirical research in Ukraine. Following Charles Tilly (Tilly 2007), civil society may contribute to democratization by altering the relations between citizens and government. I my paper, I will examine the respective approaches of external civil society assistance in Ukraine. I will introduce an overview of the plurality of organizations supporting civil society and present a typology of donor strategies. Based on detailed analyses of interaction networks between democracy supporters and Ukrainian civil society, I will also show how the strategies of empowering Ukrainian civil society became aligned, and how they influenced action repertoires and foci of civic organizations. Finally, not only a divided civil society (Hahn- Fuhr/Worschech2014) seems to emerge on the basis of external support. It becomes obvious that what empowers civil society to actively contribute to democratization are rather unintended than intended effects of external support.

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