Collective Experience and Civil Society in Governance

Collective Experience and Civil Society in Governance
Kang, Younguck
governance; self-governance; civil society; leadership; collective experience; consensus building
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Series/Report no.
KDI Working Paper Series;06-14
Korea is widely recognized as a paragon of miraculous economic development as well as rapid advancement of democracy, and yet most researchers in Korea point to the lack of political leadership and immaturity of civil society as dominant factors inhibiting advancement of democracy. Considering the lack of experiences in selfgovernance by grassroots Korean people, where such experience is only recently (since 1988 at most) beginning to accumulate, such a claim may mislead the true nature of the obstacles in advancement of democracy as the Korean society as a whole face today: it may imply that the institutional context of Korean society has little effect on deterrence of democracy. It is the claim of this author that the maturing of civil society depends on cumulative experiences of self-governance and subsequent learning effect from such ‘collective experience,’ which in turn must shape the institutional context of a society and the role expectation of actors and institutions. This paper aims at identifying the relationship between civil society and ‘collective experience’ in the context of Korean society, especially in terms of the inherent limitations imposed by transplanted governance structure, independent of such ‘collective experiences’ and lack of consensus on role expectations, on the advancement of democracy.
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