Understanding the Dynamics and Operations of Civil Society in the 21st Century: A Literature Review
This article sets out to review the extant literature on civil society. Indeed the literature on civil society abounds
with several views and perspectives, especially on the theoretical debates on the concept. However, in order to
avoid the unnecessary entanglement of the unending theoretical debates that have characterized the subject, the
article focuses on the activities and operations as well as the usefulness of civil society in the twenty first century.
The article consequently tries to identify the literature that discusses the activities of civil society across the globe. It begins by giving a general background to the concept of civil society. This is then followed by discussions on civil society and how it relates to democracy and democratic consolidation and development in different parts of the world with particular emphasis on Africa. It then examines the activities of CSOs in Europe, the Asia-Pacific region (with emphasis on Malaysia). It further examines the changing nature of CSOs in the midst of global crisis by discussing how civil society has operated in challenging times amidst financial crisis, terrorism, etc. It concludes by suggesting some new ways of understanding civil society.