The Making of Civil Society in Contemporary Socialist Vietnam: Youth, Morality, and Collective Action


Mellon/ACLS Community College Faculty Fellowships




This project examines the instrumental role of Vietnamese youth in building civil society within a contemporary socialist nation-state. In contrast with the western view that liberal freedom is a necessary condition for building a vibrant civil society, Vietnam has increasingly concentrated on the voluntary labor of youth through their participation in youth unions, which drive state-sponsored social programs that focus on issues such as public sanitation, charity drives, and ending domestic violence. These programs not only replace the role of liberal private entities in producing civil society, but they also work to earn the public’s trust in the single party-state’s effectiveness in governing the country. Based on ethnographic data from fieldwork at a youth union in Da Nang City, this project seeks to expand understanding of how the volunteer labor of youth is instrumental in sustaining socialism.