Working Group 1: Crisis and futures of ‘civil society’ in development

Hybrid working group

Judith Kahamba, Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Jyväskylä,
Tiina Kontinen, Associate Professor, University of Jyväskylä,
Eija Ranta, Academy of Finland Research Fellow, University of Helsinki,

The working group will discuss the implications of the current ‘polycrisis’ to the research on, and practices of, ‘civil society in development’. Civil society actors are engaged, in multiple levels, in addressing the new emergencies and needs arising from the crisis all over the world; both by mitigating the consequences as well as addressing some of the root causes. At the same time, world is experiencing decline of democracy, partly manifested in increasing state restrictions to civic space, as well as enabling certain forms of civil society actors while hindering others. Moreover, the traditional North-South civil society collaborations are challenged from decolonial and anti-racist perspectives calling for restructuring the power architecture and forms of organizing. Simultaneously, the worldwide rise of conservatism and populism, including in donor countries, has affected the forms and resources of civil society development cooperation. We invite academic papers and reflections from practitioners and activists to tackle a wide variety of questions related to ‘civil society’ in development: How diverse actors – NGOs, INGOs, CSOs, social movements, activists – in civil society are affected by polycrisis and what are their roles therein? How are the changes related to democracy and civic space manifested in different contexts? What are the challenges and future scenarios of civil society development as practice and profession, including in donor countries and Finland? This hybrid working group invites contributions from a wide range of academic disciplines from all parts of the world, with a special focus on development studies and participants from the Global South. We request max 350 words abstracts that feature a title, a name and affiliation of the author(s), summary of the paper/reflection to be presented inclusive of reflection of its resonance with the overall theme of the group. Prior circulation of full papers is not requested.

Please send your abstract through email simultaneously to all three coordinators:;;