Social capital: forming of civil society under the influence of the state’s multi-party system


To understand the perspectives of civil society forming in Kazakhstan, there is a key concept of «social capital». As Richard D. Putnam once wrote in his «Making democracy work», «Under social capital we put those traits of social organization (principles, structures, standards), which can assert the effectiveness of society's coordinated actions». Like any other form of capital, social capital is productive and allows to implementing the goals, which are unachievable without it. For example, one circle which members are trusting each other, able to achieve much more than the one with the lack of trust. In farming... where one farmer invites another for haymaking, and instruments and tools of labor are lendable, social capital allows each member to economize manual labor capital — those tools and instruments". A honor of bringing up the term «Social capital» belongs to Glenn Laury.

2009-06-05-sozkapitalIn our point of view, it is necessary to tell apart about «long» and «short» relations in context of social capital. In the 70-es, Yuriy Lisovsky, when colligating the whole layer of researches of western (especially American) sociologists, proposed a neat criteria of this relations. In the South-Italian society dominates the «short» neighbor-kinship relations, while in the northern — «long», «political party to labor union» type relations.

To form the civil society, we need expansion and consolidation of those «long» interrelations. It is important that these «long», party-type interrelations (intraparty, labor union and other non-governmental organizations) will not be based on patronage-cliental relations, but on mutual confidence, friendly approach and solidarity, all based on the same values and long-term interests. In other words, to build a civil society, we need a social capital. Which, as Putnam wrote, includes the multilateral trust within the variety of civil institutes.

In that way, the perspectives of establishing the Kazakhstani civil society considerably stands on finding out the lack/presence of this social capital. Otherwise discussions about those perspectives will concern with utopia theoretical construction, or attempts to implant non-governmental activity, which is more distinct in Europe and US. But transferring foreign social models were never productive.

In 1997, philosopher Nurlan Amrekulov noted that in the country there are over 200 active and well-known NGO's. Their dynamic cooperation with overseas non-governmental organizations is not as smooth as it appearing. Target to establish resource centers of various foreign charity foundations resulted the diversion of at least half of funds, which were devoted to develop «third-party» (non-governmental) sector, but actually been used on creating some third party establishment. A considerable part of those funds were spent on trainings, seminars, and rental for prestigious holiday centers. In many cases NGO activities resulting the need to create 3 or more resource centers, which carries on even more funds than earlier.

There are two approaches of state support to third sector in Kazakhstan. The first one consists in state support of the particular civic organizations: associations for blind, deaf and other physically impaired — social institutes that solving the problems of vulnerable groups in centralized order, accompanying to state social service agencies. The other approach is granting financial and other support to NGOs, according to its legal status. It's evolved as judging by last year's practice. At the same time, this state activities is leading to establishment of new quasi-social organizations, which are largely depending on government authorities.

What is the civil society?
In a disparate treatments dominating the concept of civil society, which consists of independent social-political, economical, religious and ideological institutes, which are reflecting and then providing the different interests of social groups and private interests. There is another opinion, saying that civil society is a «complex of interpersonal relations of all out-of-state social, economical, political, reproductive and religious institutions, which are protecting human rights and freedoms». As Davletyarova wrote, «Development of Kazakhstani society by its way to democracy is described by the objective contradiction, which lays in the basic processes of institutionalization of civil society». The main contradiction is a «passage from totalitarian social system to the civil one» which is described not only in structural and institutional changes, but even in social conscience... For the nonce, we now deal only with faltering, marginal consciousness.

«As such theoretical researches of the civil society we can associate two main interpretations of its origin, two different understandings of this concept. Some authors using it for characterization of particular condition of society. With this characterization, civil society is identical to the state of specific type, in which human rights and freedoms are politically protected and legally secured, in virtue of it can be considered civilized, thereby civil society».

The second fundamental characterization of civil society is represented by as the particular sphere of the society — the sphere of non-governmental relations, structures and institutes. ...the State, by virtue of its social relations structuring function, fatally influences on autonomous private sphere at least by creating either propitious or non-propitious conditions for its development and functioning. On the other hand, civil society is welding together the private and social interests, acting as intermediary between person an the State. On one hand, it is the field of the struggle between differently aimed private and group interests, on the other hand, it is active factor of this processes." The second characterization shows the true essence of civil society.

The State, the Society and Multipartyness
The specificity of Kazakhstan lies in the fact that because of the lack of political institutions the main source and starter of reforms is the powers of State. In such a situation non-governmental political institutes are self-limited, because they must adapt to dominating role of the State power. And because of that the actual question is to find the forms and mechanisms of revelation and translation of social interests to the highest level of the State. Nowadays, there is an obvious tendency to make Nur Otan political party such a translator. President's speechification on the 15 of May on XII extraordinary congress of Nur Otan is noteworthy in that very moment. Which in its own way is the new word in domestic multipartyness. Other parties are also seeking for support, not in unembodied civil society, but in non-governmental organizations, which were established by its members. Yet, this structures is not the part of the civil society.

What's preventing besides social capital?
The problem of additions from the higher level of power by the actions of the lower level is eventually the perspectives of civil society in Kazakhstan. «In the Western world this idea addresses to prevailing communities, where relevant ideas are worked out on the low or middle levels». To define this question, we should indentify the necessary indicators: articulation of social levels with its autonomous logic; person as the basic cell; ability to historical transformation.

Concerning clannishness and kin-centrism, those phenomena according to researches of Italian sociologist Banyasko, were not insuperable barriers in the South of Italy on the way to establishment of modern institutions of civil society. Optimistic assertion of Italian researcher was based two main reasons. First of all, according to data from another sociologist Trilige, in some spheres, for example, in the process of establishing the voluntary unions of cultural nature, dynamics of development of the civil society is in advance in South of Italy, than in the North. As for the second reason, we assume that the tendencies of establishing more wide-ranged associations, than clientella, has been stopping the reunion of Christian democrats with clientella- mafiosi structures of the South, which existed until early 90's. It's not occasional that revitalization of particular sectors of civil society coincided with major successes in the struggle against mafia. For the first time ever, omerta, the law of mafia solidarity, has been broken.

So, given their rivalry, can the parties promote the establishment of the civil society in Kazakhstan?
It's worth to mention the experience of the past: majority of the social and economical issues were resolved at the lower society level, within the villages or between them, which is the necessary part of European and US local government. As example, many questions like pasture and water disputes the society tried to resolve by the active participation of Aksakals, the White Beards. We need a real local government which will make able for the vertical of power to deal with authentic questions of the State, including resistance to financial crisis, and leaving the rest decisions to local civilians. And that's when we would not face fuel-station or power line near our houses, contrary to law. And a public garden, slashed for the building purposes, would be an exception to the rules.

Consequences of the substitution of notion
Two reasons of the civil society notion are opening the field not only for controversial interpretations, but even the substitution of notions. Something we recognize as the categories of civil society, really is simple the unity of organizational-institutional forms, which are adding functions to the State powers. And this can be happened under the flag of democracy. This self-delusion of the political, including oppositional, parties is quite possible. Civil society with its interests and demands, must look into the future, not only into everyday needs. Professor Arato of the Central European University of Budapest has been telling about the number of ideas, which appeared between party members and activists during the 90's. In post-socialistic countries of the Central and Eastern Europe they played down the importance of the civil society. "For revolutioners, orientation on the civil society was too law-ish and gradually-ish. From the point of new politic professionals, communication channels, opened to the out-party groups, harmed their narrow concept of democracy, which originated not even from the Western ideals, but from the Western elitist democrats practice. "

Labor, ecologist, consumer unions, which is common to the developed economy, appeared to be improperly luxurious for the adopts of economical liberalism. Thereby, they moving together with elitist democracy, which, in their turn, trying to keep politics apart from the influence of society. If we looking onto the other wing, nationalists are interested in illusive community of the whole, which can get rid of the past, but not in the real communities that challenging the next century. Most of all they scared of modern post-wealth values around the new social movements. Along with protectors of class interests they have the tendency to canalize the social protest, intentionally or not, in populist directions.


  1. Darcy

    Absolute horseshit !!! Looks like a bot written it

  2. Anonymous

    Это чо мужик написал? В смысле коммента?

  3. wheeler

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  4. Anonymous

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  5. Хорошо и полезно, а будет еще что-то из этой же серии?