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Since the national independence of the Central Asian countries in the early 1990s, there has been a tension between stability- and transformation-oriented rationalities, goals, and policies. However, the concurrent missions of political stability and societal transformation indicate a clear distinction between state and society. This idea of separating state and society is particularly strong with regard to security issues, but this strict separation is likely to produce contradictory goals and to have dysfunctional consequences since it prevents the political system from benefitting from the contribution that civil society can make to addressing political and social challenges. Therefore, in this article—which also serves as an introduction to the special issue—we argue that it is necessary to bridge the discourses on security and civil society, with a particular focus on Central Asia.

In: Central Asian Affairs