What is the Relationship between Civil Society and the State in Small Island States? An Examination of Social Origins Theory and The Bahamas

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Virginia Tech


The Bahamas has many of the challenges that come with being a small island state. The archipelagic nature of the country brings with it the necessity to duplicate service efforts to accommodate all citizens in the development process; this factor puts a strain on the government's resources, and the need for civil society to fill the gaps that exist and partner with government is more pronounced. This study is pursued to examine the relationship between civil society and government in small island states such as The Bahamas. To accomplish this, the study reviews six civil society organizations, from three different sectors — health, education and environment. An organization from each sector was chosen, formed either during the colonial period or post-colonial, to examine the nature of the organization's relationship with government at two different points in time, in an effort to see whether the relationship differs based on the particular non-profit sector (health, education or environment) or time of origin (colonial or post-colonial). This relationship is reviewed through the lens of three variables: the nature of the financial relationship the policy relationship, and structure relationship.

The relationship will be viewed through the lens of social origins theory as developed by Lester Salamon (2002) et. al. The research will be based on data collected using the same instrument applied by Salamon et al in the initial study, but the variables will be applied at the level of an organization, rather than a sector. Data is also drawn from interviews with persons associated with each organization. A review of the type of relationship government has with these civil society groups (and the implications of those relationships on performance) may provide insight in the way government should seek to foster and manage relationships with such organizations in the future for the growth and development of the country.



civil society, The Bahamas, small island states, social origins theory