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Diploma DemocracyThe Rise of Political Meritocracy$
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Mark Bovens and Anchrit Wille

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198790631

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198790631.001.0001

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The Meritocratization of Civil Society

The Meritocratization of Civil Society

Chapter:
(p.91) 6 The Meritocratization of Civil Society
Source:
Diploma Democracy
Author(s):

Mark Bovens

Anchrit Wille

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198790631.003.0006

Civil society organizations are, if not schools, at least pools of democracy. In the ‘third sector’, too, active engagement and participation ‘by the people’ have given way to meritocracy, or, in other words, to rule by the well-educated. Many popularly rooted mass organizations have witnessed a decline in membership and political influence. Their role as intermediary between politics and society has been taken over by professionally managed advocacy groups that operate with university educated public affairs consultants. First, the chapter describes the associational revolution, the enormous increase in the number of civil society organizations. Then it in analyses the education gap in membership and the shift from large membership organizations to lean professional advocacy groups, which has occurred over the past three decades. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the net effect of this meritocratization of civil society for political participation and interest representation.

Keywords:   civil society organizations, third sector, advocacy groups, professionalization, education gap, European Union

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