Civil society is created by and consists of all associations and interest groups that are not subject to the state. They work for and towards the self-organization of society. These associations seek to involve citizens in local life. They are organized on the basis of a participatory structure, with goals, strategies and a common code of communication : narrowcasting.

This type of society serves as an interface between citizens and the state. It was officially launched at the meeting of the Information Society in Tunis in 2005.

The dynamics of development are articulated around three pillars (see below) :

  • its object is society as a whole, that is, its values ​​and models;
  • it is about the group of citizens who want to take charge in order to control their daily life and proximity;
  • It uses as a verb the animation of a concrete project.

The basic raw material is the information describing the daily life of the group, which in context reveals the consensus and the opinions necessary for citizens to take control of their actions :

The tools used are :

  • those used to analyze the daily life of citizens : the awareness-raising phase ;
  • those used to analyze the feasibility of the project: the consensus phase ;
  • those that lead to action : the implementation phase.

The pyramid of information-knowledge-consensus leads to sustainable development via the consensus obtained through awareness-raising and realization :


The extraordinary diversity of civil society is both its strength and its weakness, caused by a fragmentation of the social fabric when there is no consensus.

Civil society is the capillary system of democracy

These associations derive their legitimacy from the popular will of their members, that is, from the intensity of their participation in the search for consensus. They serve as relays in the processing of information and are used to generate opinions in the appropriate context and environment.

If you Want to Go Fast, Go Alone.
If you Want to Go Far, Go Together!

Reference points

1949 Harry Truman proposes the American Way of Life as a solution to the development of so-called underdeveloped countries.
1960 Appearance of the Third World concept.
1968 An important political boom in the industrialized countries results in an anger among the 85% of the poor.
1980 The expression North-South fracture appears.
1988 The Workers’ Party wins the municipal elections in Porto Alegre and launches the first participatory budget experiment.
1999 The first major protest against economic globalization takes place in Seattle.
2001 Establishment of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China + G8 = G20). North-South relations now slide from West to East.
2001 Organization of the first World Social Forum in Porto Alegre in response to the Davos meetings.
2005 The official recognition of the Civil Society as a major player in the process of societal development during the international meeting of the Information Society in Tunis.
2008 For his political activities, President Obama’s team uses various electronic and social tools in a comprehensive way, including the first local grid tool for large-scale e-mobilization (Chapter 3).
2010 The use of social networks and mobile devices in the Arab Spring (about twenty different experiments).

Historically, groups of human beings have come together to face common challenges : unions, self-help groups, town meetings and cultural associations. Since the social upheaval of 1968-1970, the arrival of several generations of IT has multiplied the impact of these groups by providing them with new tools for consultation, participation and, above all, the creation of opinions.

Today, a new-generation tool (the Web) is positioned to be an ideal tool because it is mobile, interactive, borderless and, above all, inexpensive.

New types of actors are emerging : mediators, content integrators, opinion-makers, opinion-makers, smugglers or cultural relayers, and expert citizens. These groups do not all have the same approach:

Informal groups

It is cyber-communities and on-line communities that want to ensure their presence, in their environment. They focus on encouraging members to communicate more regularly. See, for example, the groups of elderly people and social clubs.

Virtual Interest Groups

Smart communities that use these tools to mobilize their members around concrete actions (often assisted by Geeks or Nerds from their environment, influencers, etc.) (figure 23). They invest considerable resources to build their portal or hire a webmaster. See the example of sports, cultural and trade union associations,

Hacktivists (contraction of hackers and activists)

Networks of protesters (escapists, whistleblowers or alert launchers, etc.) who want to change certain public opinions according to their ideology. It is the saga of white hats (at the service of good) against black hats (crackers, serving evil). See examples of hacktivist campaigns : Natives, anti-globalization or anti-Wall Street.


Revolutionary groups that want to overthrow the power in place. See the example of the Arab Spring (22 very different national adventures), anti-Putin and Zapatistas.

We are now witnessing the emergence of more and more radical movements, opposed to any compromise with the institutional bodies. Thus far these radical movements have failed to establish a dialogue with the new forms of mobilization. For the moment it is a hushed revolt and a stand-off, but what will tomorrow bring?