Civil society versus nationalizing state? Advocacy of minority rights in the post-socialist Baltic states

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Strong civil society provides individuals with arenas to bring their interests to the attention of policymakers. In so doing, civil society organizations (CSOs) can support state policies, but can also criticize policies. This paper argues that most minority rights advocacy CSOs in the Baltic states have little say in the crafting of policy and are compartmentalized into the existing agendas, with only a few groups able to evaluate policies independently. It concludes that the Baltic civil society is weak because the CSOs working on minority issues ask policymakers either too much, or too little. The findings suggest that policymakers quell criticism of their work from the side of the CSOs by ignoring their activities. Alternatively, by funding the CSO that shores up the state agenda, policymakers delegate their responsibilities to civic actors, keep critical voices from public debates and claim that their policies have the full support of a vibrant civil society. This paper investigates the options available for civil society actors to relate to policymakers in a nationalizing state by drawing on the data collected in 77 semi-structured interviews with the CSOs working with Russian and Polish minorities in the Baltic states between 2006 and 2009.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-203
Number of pages23
JournalNationalities Papers
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2011

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2011 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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