Partnerships Beyond Borders: NGOs, Social Movements and Civil Society in Transnational Development

Key information

Module code
Department of Development Studies

Module overview

This module examines how civil society organisations and social movements shape and influence the local and global governance of development. The module critically assesses the role played by the diverse array of organisations in civil society that exert power in the processes and outcomes of development and with special emphasis on the Global South.

Over the years, mainstream academic thinking has been channelled towards the way organisations, social movements and civil society in general have responded to the challenge of making development possible in nation-states. However, nation-states in the face of an ever-increasing globalisation landscapes have lost much of their former pre-eminence as the centre of political activism and development governance itself. This module unveils and studies how the trans-national and fluid social fabric of organisations, social movements and civil society across the world have helped pave the way development has evolved beyond the neat borders of nation-states.

The module draws on the latest empirical and interdisciplinary scholarship in the social sciences to illustrate the local/global nature of civil society organisations and social movements and their far-reaching impacts in development projects and processes within and beyond nation-state borders. In so doing, it identifies the chain of key social actors, context, processes and effects that weave today’s development practices, institutions, ideas and agendas. Finally, the module samples empirical research and case studies from around the world to exemplify how civil society organisation can become either engines for social change or instrumentalised to lock and maintain key status quo of uneven and unequal capitalist development outcomes.

For on campus students wanting to select this module, please note you will not be able to select this and 15PDSH001 as this is a restricted combination.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • Recognise the key theoretical and empirical debates revolving around the way civil society affects development and viceversa

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the genealogy of organisations, social movements and civil society in different contexts and stages of development

  • Articulate a critical understanding of the trans-national civil society politics shaping development outcomes from different perspectives: from hegemony to counter-hegemony

  • Use conceptual tools to unpack the link between civil society and development beyond geographical and disciplinary borders


Teaching takes place online

Scope and syllabus

The module will cover topics such as:

  1. From Local to Global: A Historical Background of Civil Society and Development
  2. Who is Civil Society? Defining Organisations, civil society and social movements
  3. Civil Society as arena of trans-national politics
  4. Civil society and un-civil social development: reproducing hegemony and inequality
  5. Social Movements of the Non-Poor
  6. Empowering counterhegemony: the transnational social movements of the poor
  7. Beyond social capital and capitalist development: civil society for alternative futures
  8. Development beyond borders: Displaced civil society, migration and social movements
  9. Civil society and the organised networks of democracy
  10. Institutional frameworks and collective action for social change
  11. From Urban to Rural Social Movements and development
  12. Partnerships for Sustainable Development: Mainstreaming civil society or effective social change?
  13. Civil Society and Development: Case studies from the Global South
  14. Civil Society and Development: Case studies from the Global North

This list is indicative of the type of content that is proposed for the module and may be subject to change.

Method of assessment

100% coursework


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules