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|Selling civil society: Western aid and the nongovernmental organization sector in Russia.
|Year of Publication
|Sage Public Administration Abstracts
|309 - 456
To what degree can Western countries "purchase" civic engagement and participation in less developed countries that do not share the Western liberal tradition? Drawing on interview data as well as internal documents, this article looks at the effects of Western and international assistance on building civil society and, hence, democracy in Russia by focusing on the Russian nongovernmental organization (NGO) community. Although Western assistance has provided tangible equipment and training for NGOs, overall funding designed to facilitate the growth of civil society has had unintended consequences. Institutions, interests, and incentive structures impede successful collective action toward building a civic community by encouraging both funders and NGO activists to pursue short-term benefits over long-term development. The result is the creation of patron-client ties between the international donor and the Russian recipient rather than horizontal networks of civic engagement among Russian NGOs and their domestic audience.