The Role of Communication in Global Civil Society: Forces, Processes, Prospects



The author examines the concept of global civil society (GCS) through the use of theoretical tools and empirical evidence related to the study of International Communication. He demonstrates that scholarship on GCS tends to simplify the process through which information becomes knowledge and that the state system–GCS relationship often is presented in terms of an ahistorical power dichotomy. In relation to these problems, what the author calls “GCS progressives” tend to underplay political-economic factors shaping GCS, including the implications of structural power; they tend to emphasize the importance of spatial integration while neglecting related changes in temporal norms; and, more essentially, they often under-theorize the importance of socialization processes and relatively unmediated relationships in the ongoing construction of “reality.” The author concludes that through a more focused analysis—concentrating on how new technologies can be used to organize nationally and locally, and on lifestyle changes associated with communications developments—more precise analyses and fruitful strategies for GCS progressives may emerge.