Jörg Wischermann / Bui The Cuong / Nguyen Quang Vinh / Dang Thi Viet Phuong / Nguyen Thi Minh Chau

Under the State's Thumb: Results from an Empirical Survey of Civic Organizations in Vietnam

GIGA Working Paper, No. 276, July 2015

Civic organizations (COs) are neither a good nor a bad thing. They are not inherently fighters for democracy or supporters of authoritarian rule. The way they develop depends on the impact that various forms of state power have on them and on their influence on the state. Vietnamese COs appear to be no exception. When we examine just one direction of these interdependent and reciprocal relations, it becomes clear that under the constraints of the Vietnamese state's infrastructural power many Vietnamese COs develop features of intra‐organizational authoritarianism; that they help to embed the state and the Communist Party more deeply within Vietnamese society; and, finally, that they contribute to bringing the society further under the control of the state and the party. However, this occurs to a very different degree depending on the type of CO. NGOs and faith‐based organizations in particular, at least in the field of gender norms and practices, seem to resist the state's discursive power. This could imply challenges to the state’s and the party's control of politics and society and leads the authors to draw far‐reaching conclusions as far as developmental cooperation with and potential support for various types of Vietnamese COs is concerned.

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GIGA Authors

Dr. Jörg Wischermann is an associate research fellow at the GIGA Institute for Asian Studies, Hamburg. He served as academic head of the project “Civil society organisations as supporters of authoritarian rule? A cross‐regional comparison (Vietnam, Algeria, Mozambique),” which was funded by the DFG (2013–2016).

Recent Publications by the Authors

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Vietnam: Mythen und Wirklichkeiten

Bonn: Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, 2018

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Vietnam: Kinderarbeit in Steinbrüchen an der Tagesordnung

in: Walter Eberlei (ed.), Grabsteine aus Kinderhand. Kinderarbeit in Steinbrüchen des globalen Südens als politische Herausforderung, Frankfurt am Main: Brandes & Apsel Verlag, 2018, 51-72

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Do associations support authoritarian rule? Evidence from Algeria, Mozambique, and Vietnam

Journal of Civil Society, 14, 2018, 2, 95-115

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Authoritarian Rule

in: Akihiro Ogawa (ed.), Routledge Handbook on Civil Society in Asia, Abingdon: Routledge, 2018, 344-361

Jörg Wischermann / Dang Thi Viet Phuong


in: Akihiro Ogawa (ed.), Routledge Handbook on Civil Society in Asia, Abingdon: Routledge, 2018, 129-142