Home Institution

University of Pittsburgh

Publication Date

Fall 2010

Program Name

Samoa: Pacific Communities and Social Change


This project examined the meaning of civil society, both in its true form as well as in the Samoan context, the roles of civil society, and whether civil society is used as a modem to converse with the Samoan government on behalf of the people. The purpose of this study was to formulate a more complete understanding of the term “civil society”, how civil society works within the Samoan Democracy, and the relationship between civil society and government. Research for this study was completed through interviews, surveys, secondary research, and field based observations. The interviewees for this study were either members of civil society or members of government. The civil society members represented many aspects of civil society including religious institutions, public awareness organizations, NGO umbrella organizations, and public and private schools. Surveys were conducted at various NGOs in Apia and its neighboring villages. The findings for this study suggest that the concept of civil society in Samoa differs greatly from the general ideology. Samoan civil society takes on many roles not traditionally accredited to non-governmental organizations including educator, watchdog, and voice of the Samoan people. Lastly, civil society’s relationship with the government varies among different organizations. More outspoken organizations tend to have controversial ties with the government, while religious and other unobtrusive organizations are complementary to the government and influence the decision making process.


Community-Based Research | Politics and Social Change


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