"Civil society: a critical view on liberal civil society"

Essay by gul2511University, Master'sA, January 2004

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The idea of civil society is rooted in the writings of early European philosophers, but the concept has acquired a new relevance in contemporary debates, with the spectacular popular uprisings against regimes in Central and Eastern Europe in the 1980s. However, the fact remains that civil society is more commonly invoked than it is carefully defined.

Often the term is used to refer to the whole range of groups and institutions that stand between the individual and the state. In liberal account In a broader sense, in Rawl's liberal formulation civil society is seen as a neutral zone, in which various virtues compete. Civil society is thus desirable because it affords and sustains endless debate, thereby precluding any general consensus on the good to which society can subscribe and which it can foster in its members. In other words it presents a forum in which a plurality of doctrines can be debated within numerous voluntary associations.

In contemporary era, in practise, political liberalism shows itself in liberal democracy in the western world. Thus liberal democracy and liberal civil society are two of the main ideals. It is generally recognized in the literature on the topic that the existence of an active civil society in a country is linked to the vitality of the political democracy. Civil society mediates between the household and the state so as to provide citizens opportunities for learning democratic habits of free assembly, noncoercive dialogue, and socioeconomic initiative.

A problematic area is the conceptualization of the term of civil society. The general term of liberal civil society has linked to the concept of "civility" and "civilized society". It means respect for individual autonomy, based on security and thrust among people who had perhaps never met. It requires regularity of behavior, voluntary action, rules of...