The “Civil Society Index” research project for Greece.
During 2005 and 2006, access2democracy (a2d), a Greek non-profit organization on e-democracy, which has since ceased operation, was appointed by CIVICUS, the foremost global non-profit organization on civil society, as the national coordinating organization to implement a novel and significant research into civil society in Greece.
The project was part of a 53 country-wide published research aiming to produce comparative results and insights into the global civil society. The main outcome of 16 months intensive work, is a 91-page report on the state of civil society which can be downloaded here:
• Greece Report-Executive Summary (pdf)
An overview of the project is available below:
The CSI (Civil Society Index) is an action-research project that aims to assess the state of civil society worldwide and has been implemented in 53 countries. It was coordinated by CIVICUS : World Alliance for Citizen Participation, the leading global alliance dedicated to strengthening civil society and citizen action throughout the world. Its members – over 1,000 – include foundations, research institutes, voluntary organizations and individuals from more than 100 countries.
The CSI assesses four different dimensions of civil society (Structure, Environment, Values, and Impact) and summarises its findings in the form of a “Civil Society Diamond” which reveals the current state of civil society and, when mapped over time, illustrates its development. This methodological tool was developed for CIVICUS by the Centre for Civil Society of the LSE and Dr Helmut Anheier.
A shorter version, called CSI-SAT (Shortened Assessment Tool) was developed in order to utilize secondary data available and to serve as a useful preparatory activity for a full implementation at a later stage.
b. The case of Greece
access2democracy (a2d) decided to embark upon this ambitious project in the belief that while the significance of the civil society sector has been widely recognized and is part of the international dialogue on Global Governance, Greece is not really following this debate, a fact which is probably true even today.
A first significant step towards reversing this is obviously a mapping of the scene which can facilitate an informed dialogue on the subject. The CSI-SAT, as part of an internationally recognized effort, was a perfect tool for this task, a vehicle which could help Greece have “a voice” in a hot debate of our times.
Moreover, it was considered that a deeper knowledge of the civil society sector in Greece would greatly support the work of e-democracy, which after all is all about giving a “voice” to civil society actors through appropriate uses of ICTs. Thus, in April 2005, a2d was appointed as the National Coordinating Organization of the CSI-SAT Civicus project for Greece.
For the next 16 months, a2d implemented the project under the expert scientific supervision of Dimitri A. Sotiropoulos , Associate Professor of Political Science at the Faculty of Political Science and Public Administration, University of Athens.
In line with the project methodology, a 15-member Stakeholder Assessment Group was convened to act as an advisory committee to the project (see below).
c. The “Civil Society Index” report for Greece
The title of the final report, “Greek Civil Society: The long way to maturity-2005 ” is meant to reflect the fact that although the general environment in Greece is rather positive, there is still a long road ahead before civil society gains the position and recognition it deserves within the modern Greek society.
There is hope that this report, whatever its merits or possible deficiencies, will nevertheless make a worthwhile contribution to a much needed debate and further research in this field.
The Civil Society Index Diamond for Greece
The Civil Society Diamond which emerged for Greece is not well balanced in the four dimensions, i.e. structure, environment, values and impact, and is of a small size overall. The four dimension scores are between 0.9 and 2.1, indicating a relatively underdeveloped civil society with a very weak structure and a limited impact on society at large, but existing in a relatively enabling environment with rather positive values. The CSI-SAT findings in Greece brought forth many new insights about Greek civil society, and at times even challenged existing wisdom.
d. The Stakeholder Assessment Group
The Stakeholder Assessment Group (SAG), established in line with the proposed methodology to guide the project implementation process and provide input into the research, met on two occasions and helped to relate the gathered information to the reality of civil society groups in Greece.
All the members of this advisory group voluntarily offered their time, knowledge and informed views and the work would not be possible without them. Naturally, they bear no responsibility for the final content of the report.
The members of the group were (in alphabetical order):
- Zoi Alaxouzou, Scientific Associate, Centre of Research and Action on Peace (KEDE)
- Kritonas Arsenis, Scientific Associate, Elliniki Etairia Perivallontos & Politismou
- Christos Fragonikolopoulos, Civil society expert, Assistant Professor, University of Thessaloniki
- Nikitas Giannakos, Scientific Associate , AthensWireless Metropolitan Network
- Panagiota Kalapotharakou, President of Consumer Union “The Quality of Life” (EKPOIZO)
- Konstadia Kanaliotou, Scientific Associate, Arsis
- John Konstadinou, Lawyer, Member of the Administrative Board of the Thessaloniki Bar Association
- Nikitas Lionarakis, Vice President, GreenPeace Hellas, ex President of Committee for Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs), Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Evangelos Liotzis, Scientific Associate, Citizens’ Union PAREMVASSI
- Panagis Panagiotopoulos, expert on political parties, Lecturer, University of Thessaloniki
- Thanassis Papaioannou, Independent expert, Scientific Associate of the Greek Economic and Social Committee (ESC), representing the President of the ESC Mr Nicholas Analytis
- Petros Patronos, Director, Nomos + Physis
- Miltos Pavlou, Scientific Associate, Hellenic League for Human Rights, Scientific Associate of the Greek Ombudsman
- Michael Stertsos, Representative of the General Confederation of Workers (GSEE),
- Myrsini Zorba, President, Network for the Protection of Children Rights, ex Member of the European Parliament
e. The international workshop in Scotland.
From 19th to 21st of June 2006, an International Civil Society Index (ICSI) Workshop took place in Glasgow, Scotland. The ICSI provided a forum for CSI project partners and selected stakeholders to identify and discuss key findings of the CSI and to evaluate the CSI project phase 2003-2005. The a2d project team was present in this workshop, presenting the case, exchanging views and ideas about the project and proposing new methods of implementation about the project.
All the country reports were compiled and published by Kumarian Press in two separate volumes:
- The CIVICUS Global Survey of the State of Civil Society, Vol. 1 (country profiles)
- CIVICUS Global Survey of the State of Civil Society, Vol. 2 (comparative analysis of the CSI results across the participating countries)
g. Other Citations of the work