ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

The Politics of Civil Society: Neighbourhood Associationism in Chennai

Scholarly work portrays Residents Welfare Associations as constituting an exclusively middle class "civil society" in urban polities structured overwhelmingly by class. In this view, rwas belong to a new politics representing an emerging partnership between civil society, the reforming state and private capital, aimed at reclaiming urban governance from the messy dealings of electoral democracy. The urban poor, meanwhile, are perceived as organised predominantly through the sphere of politics. This paper, using survey and ethnographic data on neighbourhood associations in Chennai, argues that these accounts are over-schematised. There are considerable overlaps between civil and political society: the urban poor increasingly resort to civil associational forms to claim urban citizenship, and middle class associations are more deeply engaged with the sphere of formal politics than their own or scholarly accounts convey.

This paper reports on a study of neighbourhood associations in Bangalore and Chennai, carried out from June 2006 to November 2007 by Madras Institute of Development Studies, assisted by CASUMM, Bangalore. The project was supported by the Development Research Centre on the Future State, based at the Institute of Development Studies, Sussex.

Dear Reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here

Or

To gain instant access to this article (download).


Pay
INR 236

(Readers in India)


Pay
$ 12

(Readers outside India)

Support Us

Your Support will ensure EPW’s financial viability and sustainability.

The EPW produces independent and public-spirited scholarship and analyses of contemporary affairs every week. EPW is one of the few publications that keep alive the spirit of intellectual inquiry in the Indian media.

Often described as a publication with a “social conscience,” EPW has never shied away from taking strong editorial positions. Our publication is free from political pressure, or commercial interests. Our editorial independence is our pride.

We rely on your support to continue the endeavour of highlighting the challenges faced by the disadvantaged, writings from the margins, and scholarship on the most pertinent issues that concern contemporary Indian society.

Every contribution is valuable for our future.