By Wanda Krause (auth.)
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Extra info for Women in Civil Society: The State, Islamism, and Networks in the UAE
Civil Society: Historical Development and Challenges A mode of activism that has recently been subject to aggressive cooptation is volunteer-oriented activity. During the period before the nation-state was in place and, in fact, over many centuries, the concept of volunteering took a different shape from its contemporary deﬁnition. There were at least three main forms. First, it could be found through communal collaboration. Community “volunteerism” 36 Wo m e n i n C i v i l S o c i e t y was known, mostly among town dwellers, as a system of faz’ah (literally, “panic situation”).
Hence, I examine the view that those actors who form groups that are guided by ideology must necessarily become obstacles to the formation of a civil society. I ask whether we can discern that women are articulating competing interests and competing notions of the common good? That is, are women collaborating to achieve common goals—hence demonstrating their participation capabilities? Do UAE women develop and spread values that foster civility? Are these women empowering themselves 26 Wo m e n i n C i v i l S o c i e t y through their struggles?
In the UAE, some assert that women are not very active or coordinated and that women’s activism is completely coopted by the state. Others maintain that women do play a signiﬁcant role in their personal development and in the development of their country. Within the literature scholars question whether civil society associations may not actually hinder the development of civil society. ”142 A further issue in the literature is the centrality of civil society actors. In reexamining the concept of civil society in the Arab Gulf, the study’s approach includes a broadened deﬁnition of its possibilities, to allow for more than mere “civil society sightings,” and takes issue with the view that civil society equals organizations.