For many commentators, global civil society is revolutionising our approach to global politics, as new non-state-based and border-free expressions of political community challenge territorial sovereignty as the exclusive basis for political community and identity. This challenge 'from below' to the nation-state system is increasingly seen as promising nothing less than a reconstruction, or a re-imagination, of world politics itself. Whether in terms of the democratisation of the institutions of global governance, the spread of human rights across the world, or the emergence of a global citizenry in a worldwide public sphere, global civil society is understood by many to provide the agency necessary for these hoped-for transformations. Global Civil Society asks whether this idea is such a qualitatively new phenomenon after all; whether the transformation of the nation-state system is actually within its reach; and what some of the drawbacks might be.
David Chandler is Senior Lecturer in International Relations at the Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster, UK.
Gideon Baker is a Lecturer in Political Theory at the University of Salford, UK.