Chapter 19 The Polish case: from darling to endangered species?
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In the 1990s the significant scale of external support for the civil societies in the then post-socialist part of Europe was only matched by the rekindled interest of Western liberal scholars in Poland. Early studies discussed the emergence of new entities in the rapidly institutionalising Polish civil society, yet acknowledging the indigenous, existing forms of social activism, which often went unremunerated and was predominant in rural areas. The Western financial and technical support was recognized and copiously - albeit uncritically - studied. During the first decade of this century the surge of world-wide backlash towards non-governmental organizations (NGOs) coincided with the growth of critical studies of the side-effects of neoliberalism and the mode of civil society it enhanced. What future research needs to focus on is the change of the role of civil society in the democratic project and the threats posed by extremist groups disguised as NGOs.