The existence of a vibrant civil society is widely perceived as a sine qua non condition for the functioning of a democratic system. However, dominant theoretical paradigms link the efficient institutionalisation of democracy with historically created social capital (Putnam, 1993)..This paper employs a different approach put forward by democracy theorists Jonathan Fox (1996, 1997) and Douglas Chalmers and others (1997), who analyse the possibilities for civic involvement and the creation of a social capital stock under less than democratic conditions.
The paper applies this theoretical approach to the question of environment protection in the Republic of Cyprus. First, it situates the environmental issue within the general framework of Cypriot society. Using the Akamas controversy as a case study, it then traces the conflict lines and co-operation patterns emerging around the environmental issue. After that, it describes the new forms of social interaction established by the actors involved in the field of environment protection by analysing interview material collected in the course of an academic project in autumn 1999. Finally, it sums up relevant aspects of the Cypriot case and attempts to assess how far the new po/icy-making patterns observed in the environmental field improve Cypriot society's potential for democratisation.
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