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date: 02 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter provides an overview of the relationship between civil society and the Kenyan state. It unveils two contradictory trends: civil society’s opposition to, and co-optation by/cooperation with, the state. The chapter argues that these tendencies are contingent on organizational positionality within the prevailing political settlement, which constitutes state authority. The trends further affirm the centrality of civil society in Kenya’s political settlements, and associated reflections of key societal divisions along ethnic and political lines that in turn help to shape organizational relations with the state and broader society. Overall, the checkered relationship between state and civil society supports both popular perceptions of the latter’s contributions to democratization, as well as concerns regarding its transformative potential.

Keywords: civil society, state, political settlement, opposition, co-optation

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