Challenges to Civil Society: Popular Protest and Governance in Jamaica

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Published by Cambria Press, Amherst, N.Y.


This book undertakes an in-depth case study of contemporary protests to illustrate not only the challenges to building civil society in Jamaica but also the requirement for the current scholarship to reconcile its moral and thematic ambivalence. For example, whereas the capacity of citizens to band together to make claims upon the state exemplifies the civil (read as positive) dimensions of civil society, the typically non-peaceful strategies and tactics deployed by citizen-protestors as they seek ‘justice’ exposes its uncivil (read as negative) aspects. The presence of rogue actors called ‘dons’ in the civil sphere and their construction of outlaw systems of governance at the community level––eclipsing the functions of the Jamaican state, and of organised civic groups––also illustrates the ‘uncivil’ dimension of civil society in this context. In other words, using Jamaica as empirical template, the book not only accounts for the reality of civil society but also demonstrates that the official literature perpetuates a universal misunderstanding and misrepresentation of civil society by variously denying its capacity and tendency to be negative and uncivil.