Global civil society and international society: Compete or complete?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The use of the concept of "global civil society" (GCS) acknowledges the intensifying role of non-state civic actors in world politics and expresses the emergence of a unique social sphere transcending national boundaries. Extensive literatures strive to suggest conceptualizations and assessments of the actual and desired effects of GCS. Nevertheless, relatively little attention has been given to the interplay between the emerging sphere of a GCS and the traditional sphere of international or interstate interactions. This article examines the idea of GCS through an exploration of the conceptual interplay between the notions of GCS and the interstate system. It presents a typology of three possible ideal-type relations: (1) GCS as replacement of statist features of the international system; (2) GCS as opposition to the state system; and (3) GCS as subsidiary organ to the international society. From a perspective informed by the English School of international relations theory, the article argues that the enhanced role of GCS in world politics is a result of international society's attempts to adapt interstate rules and practices to the context of globalization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)172-188
Number of pages17
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Global civil society
  • Global governance
  • Globalization
  • International society


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