In the past two decades, scholars from a variety of disciplines have argued that post – communist civil society is weak and structurally deficient and is characterised by low levels of social trust, voluntary organisational membership, and public participation. This article intends to challenge this academic consensus by providing an in-depth analysis of civil society development in Kyrgyzstan, a country, whose non-profit sector has been described as the most vibrant and plentiful of the Central Asian region. To this scope, the article analyses the ways and extent to which the national and international environments have influenced the development trajectory of Kyrgyz civil society. Special emphasis is placed on the specific forms and manifestations of civic engagement characterising the non-profit sector of the selected country and on the strategies it has implemented to overcome its weaknesses and vulnerabilities. The paper sheds new light on factors and features that have contributed to the strengths of Kyrgyz civil society and which can be used to increase our understanding of civil society developments in other transition countries.
Post-Soviet civil society. State-civil society relations. International democracy assistance. NGOs and development. Kyrgyzstan.