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Reconciling Top-down and Bottom-up Models of Civil Society Building in Political Development: Case Studies in Bulgaria
The concept of civil society has gained popularity among development organizations since the end of the cold war. Having a strong civil society is said to be an important foundation for democracy and even a necessity for an effective and prospering economy. This has resulted in large sums of money being funneled into programs meant to build civil society in developing countries and societies described as being in transition. Some scholars have argued that money intended to build civil society is being spent on programs that build on a top-down model. These scholars argue that a potentially valuable bottom-up model of civil society is often ignored or disrupted by donor organizations.
I explore the validity of the idea of two models for civil society building within the context of case studies in Bulgaria. I further look into possibilities that a mix of the two models can occur between civil society organizations and also within them. This hybridization can give us potential solutions to the problems many scholars find with current donor practices.