Topic: Civil society organizations and community governance
Keywords: civil society, civil society organizations, community development, community
The potential of civil society organizations (CSOs) in regional governance is not gaining much interest in recent years. As part of empirical/practical session I want to address my case study on the CSOs’ role in regional governance in the peripheral, underdeveloped region of Bohemian Switzerland National Park in the north of the Czech Republic. Building on community development theory and using the concept of the community field at regional level, I am observing a community field consisting of actors, associations and practices linked with tourism development. In particular, I am focusing on the CSOs’ role in community-development and community-governance processes. My study is based on semi-structured interviews, participant observations and document analysis. After the national park Bohemian Switzerland was established in 2001, tourism began growing rapidly in the area. This process established a complex tourism-related community field that is interlinked with the national park. This field involves a wide range of actors and institutions, including multiple CSOs. By presenting five roles with exact examples of activities taking place within the observed region I want to highlight the potential of CSOs in regional governance, mainly in terms of enabling cooperation between rural and urban municipalities and local entrepreneurs. This synergy is a dominant force in many developmental activities within the given region. Five main roles played by the CSOs in this field are:
Community developer: through activities focused on incorporating new members
into the community field, CSOs work to expand community field in the long term and ensure the ongoing mobilization of community field actors.
Transmission-belt: because of their ability to gain legitimacy and maintain a network of manifold contacts that other groups or individuals are not able to maintain, CSOs transmit demands between stakeholders on the local level and those on the regional, national and transboundary levels
Coordinator: CSOs coordinate activities of multiple regional actors.
Mediator: CSOs mediate conflicts between regional actors and help to articulate
common goals within the community field.
Fundraiser: CSOs are able to raise funds for common developmental activities on regional level.