ABSTRACT

Many of those who seek to understand the consolidation of democracy point to the importance of civil society in creating a bedrock of opinion and a foundation of relationships which enhance the democratic ethos. Key to civil society are two sets of agents: social movements (issuerelated campaigning groups) and non-governmental organizations (professional organizations with a social agenda). Both of these contribute to the construction of civil society’s fabric and influence the issues and demands expressed within society. The role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) has become of particular importance with the expansion of the global trend to use them as agents in the implementation of government policy; this trend is common not only in western nations but also in the newly democratizing countries of Latin America.