Pathways to Leadership within and beyond Cambodian Civil Society: Elite Status and Boundary-Crossing

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Elitisation in Cambodian civil society and how such processes relate to holding elite status in the state, electoral politics, and economic fields, is poorly understood. This article seeks to identify different pathways to becoming an elite within and beyond Cambodian civil society. We focus on four case studies, representing different forms of organisations within the sectors of agriculture and youth. Three main questions are explored. Firstly, we identify different forms of capital needed to reach elite status in civil society. Secondly, we explore how elite status within civil society is related to elite status within other fields, by identifying three pathways of boundary-crossing (Lewis, 2008a) from civil society into the state, electoral politics, and economic fields. Thirdly, we map the perceived possibilities and limitations of each field. In exploring these questions, this article argues for a reappraisal of Cambodian civil society, shifting attention to the networks and platforms that fall outside of the dominant focus on professional NGOs. By empirically tracing how elites move between fields, it aspires to provide a better understanding of the contours of, and relations between, civil society and other fields (including government, electoral politics, and business), including in terms of what particular forms of power pertain to each.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-119
JournalPolitics and Governance
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Sept 4

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Globalization Studies
  • Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)

Free keywords

  • boundary-crossing
  • Cambodia
  • civil society
  • elites
  • leadership


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