The CSI is an action-research project that aims to assess the state of civil society in countries around the world. Civil society is a complex concept, so the task of defining the concept, identifying civil society’s essential features and designing a strategy to assess and improve its state is in itself a complex and potentially controversial process.
Given the current lack of consensus around how to define and assess civil society, the CSI’s analytical framework seeks to include a broad range of perspectives leading to a multi-disciplinary approach and a comprehensive assessment framework based on 5 core dimensions displayed in the CSI Diamond.
The Diamond seeks to portray an empirical picture of the state of civil society, covering structural and normative manifestations, but also encompassing the conditions that support or inhibit civil society's development as well as the consequences of civil society's activities for society at large. It gathers quantitative information and enables comparison, not only over time, but also across countries, between a region and a country, in a particular field or in civil society as a whole. Only quantitative data feeds into the diamond, where the higher the percentage the better the civil society on the various indicators in a country.
Besides the CSI Diamond, case studies provide qualitative information, by exploring specific issues in depth. As such, they are a major input to the development of policy strategies and recommendations at the end of the process.
The CSI methodology has been revised over time to provide more objectivity and be more action-oriented.
For a more comprehensive explanation of the main features of the CSI’s conceptual framework and methodological approach during Phase 1 (2003-2006), please see: CIVICUS Civil Society Index: Assessing and Strengthening Civil Society Worldwide (Volkhart Finn Heinrich) - [PDF] [735 KB] or download Introduction [PDF] [57 KB].
For a comprehensive description of the CSI’s revised methodology during Phase 2 (2008-2010), please see: Assessing and Strengthening Civil Society Worldwide - An updated programme description of the CIVICUS Civil Society Index: Phase 2008 to 2010. (Jacob M. Mati, Federico Silva and Tracy Anderson) [PDF] [435KB]
For detailed information on the CSI implementation framework, please see the Implementation page of the CSI section of the CIVICUS website