Globalization and post-colonial state : human rights NGOs and the prospects for democratic governance in Egypt.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, there exists a near total consensus regarding the desirability of
democracy. Many see the push towards democracy as encouraged by the increasing interconnectednessusually
referred to as 'globalization'-between countries and peoples. Civil societies around the world
are often regarded as the primary beneficiaries of globalization. Simultaneously, they are frequently
represented by policy-makers, academics and development practitioners, as the new agents of
democratization, particularly in the struggle against authoritarian regimes.
This thesis seeks to answer two sets of questions:
1. Does civil society contribute to democratization? If so, how? And if not, why not?
2. Does globalization help or hinder the democratization process?
In response, this thesis argues that civil society plays a key role in contributing to democratization, but it
does not necessarily do so. Indeed, certain sections of civil society playa role in maintaining
authoritarianism. Secondly, globalization both helps and hinders democratization. This is nothing to do
with globalization's intrinsic qualities, but rather due to the way that actors within civil society perceive
glo baliza tion.
I present here a case study of Egyptian human rights NGOs, as a sector of Egyptian civil society
struggling for democratic governance. Following a survey of the current literature on globalization,
democratization and civil society, Chapter 1 introduces the theoretical and conceptual elements of the
thesis, which are based on Gramscian notions of hegemony and civil society. Chapter 2 locates the
historical problem of democracy in Egypt within the hegemonic power relations that have developed in
the post-colonial era. This chapter represents the emergence of Egypt's first human rights organization as
pushing the boundaries of the hegemonic consensus. Chapter 3 demonstrates that, despite the shared
origins and objectives of the Egyptian human rights NGO community, different human rights NGOs
pursue different strategies in attempting to bring about democratization. These different strategies depend
upon the positions of human rights activists vis-a-vis the post-colonial hegemonic consensus.
Chapter 4 examines the way in which human rights NGOs conflict with other sections of civil society
because of the former's resistance to the hegemonic consensus. Furthermore, civil society opposition to
human rights NGOs leads to calls for their control and, consequently, the strengthening of
authoritarianism. Chapter 5 examines further how authoritarianism may be strengthened as a result of
globalization. It also considers the problems faced by human rights NGOs and other civil society actors in
building a wide-based coalition for democratization that challenges the bases of the hegemonic consensus
underpinning authoritarianism. In the final chapter, I suggest some implications for this research inrelation to how we conceive politics and political strategies in the struggles of non-state groups for