This volume is unique because of its focus on small states. There are many studies on civil society and social movements, but none that specifically deal with this category of countries. As is well known, small states have particular characteristics, including a limited ability to reap the benefits of economies of scale, a high degree of exposure to forces outside their control, and the proximity of politicians to the voters, often leading to clientelistic relationships and patronage networks. The small island developing states have the additional problem of high environmental vulnerability, with some also dealing with disproportionate ecological footprints. These factors have a bearing on the organization and performance of civil society organizations and social movements, as explained in several chapters of this book.
The volume is organized in three parts, dealing with aspects of civil society and social moments in small states in the political, social and environmental spheres, respectively. Various definitions of civil society are proposed in the chapters, but most authors associate the term with organized groups, operating in the interest of citizens, independently of government and commercial business, including various forms of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Civil society also encompasses social movements, which are considered to be loosely organized collective campaigns in pursuit of social goals. These two terms are sometimes used interchangeably; however, some authors argue that social movements tend to engage in ‘contentious politics’ including protests, while NGOs engage through more organized and institutional routes.