Reversing the Shrinking of Civic Spaces


civil society
contestation environment
shrinking of civic spaces

How to Cite

Pessôa, M. (2020). Reversing the Shrinking of Civic Spaces. Political Observer | Revista Portuguesa De Ciência Política, (13), 49-66.


How can the shrinking of civic spaces be reversed? This article suggests an analytical approach to identify mechanisms that cause the shrinking of civic spaces in Mozambique, and presents a starting point for building strategies to react to this process. Based on interviews and participative observation in the field, it explores events and episodes where crucial issues or activists’ groupings were neutralised, and visits the theory of defiance in civil society, power and contentious politics to explain how the shrinking of civic spaces has been taking place in Mozambique in the past ten years. It is reasonable to state that activists need to cope with cultural and cognitive barriers in order to face the various expressions of state and market power in Mozambique. Civil society organizations need to work with their donors to create new forms of relationship together, where issues such as accountability, for example, do not put at risk civic spaces and projects that have made a positive difference to people’s lives. In addition, activists need to establish a joint lobbying focus for constructing a legal framework that facilitates the emergence of new civic spaces in urban and rural areas.


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