Civil society

Civil society

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Encyclopedia
Civil society is composed of the totality of many voluntary social relationships, civic and social organizations, and institutions that form the basis of a functioning society
Society
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

, as distinct from the force-backed structures of a state
State (polity)
A state is an organized political community, living under a government. States may be sovereign and may enjoy a monopoly on the legal initiation of force and are not dependent on, or subject to any other power or state. Many states are federated states which participate in a federal union...

 (regardless of that state's political system), the commercial institutions of the market
Market
A market is one of many varieties of systems, institutions, procedures, social relations and infrastructures whereby parties engage in exchange. While parties may exchange goods and services by barter, most markets rely on sellers offering their goods or services in exchange for money from buyers...

, and private criminal organizations like the mafia
Mafia
The Mafia is a criminal syndicate that emerged in the mid-nineteenth century in Sicily, Italy. It is a loose association of criminal groups that share a common organizational structure and code of conduct, and whose common enterprise is protection racketeering...

. Together, state, market, and civil society constitute the entirety of a society, and the relations between these components determine the character of a society and its structure.

Definition


There is no generally accepted definition of civil society. The London School of Economics
London School of Economics
The London School of Economics and Political Science is a public research university specialised in the social sciences located in London, United Kingdom, and a constituent college of the federal University of London...

 Centre for Civil Society's working definition is one illustrative example:
Definitions often run into difficulty when they are applied universally across social and cultural divides. As part of their research on the state of civil society in over 50 countries around the world, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, has adopted the following definition as means of dealing with this issue "the arena, outside of the family, the state, and the market
where people associate to advance common interests."

Origins


From a historical perspective, the actual meaning of the concept of civil society has changed twice from its original, classical form. The first change occurred after the French Revolution, the second during the fall of communism in Europe.

Pre-modern history


The concept of civil society in its pre-modern classical republican
Classical republicanism
Classical republicanism is a form of republicanism developed in the Renaissance inspired by the governmental forms and writings of classical antiquity. The earliest examples of the school were classical writers such as Aristotle, Polybius, and Cicero...

 understanding is usually connected to the early-modern thought of Age of Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

 in the 18th century. However, it has much older history in the realm of political thought. Generally, civil society has been referred to as a political association governing social conflict through the imposition of rules that restrain citizens from harming one another. In the classical period, the concept was used as a synonym for the good society, and seen as indistinguishable from the state. For instance, Socrates
Socrates
Socrates was a classical Greek Athenian philosopher. Credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, he is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon, and the plays of his contemporary ...

 taught that conflicts within society should be resolved through public argument using ‘dialectic
Dialectic
Dialectic is a method of argument for resolving disagreement that has been central to Indic and European philosophy since antiquity. The word dialectic originated in Ancient Greece, and was made popular by Plato in the Socratic dialogues...

’, a form of rational dialogue to uncover truth. According to Socrates, public argument through ‘dialectic’ was imperative to ensure ‘civility’ in the polis and ‘good life’ of the people. For Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

, the ideal state was a just society in which people dedicate themselves to the common good, practice civic virtues of wisdom, courage, moderation and justice, and perform the occupational role to which they were best suited. It was the duty of the ‘Philosopher king
Philosopher king
Philosopher kings are the rulers, or Guardians, of Plato's Utopian Kallipolis. If his ideal city-state is to ever come into being, "philosophers [must] become kings…or those now called kings [must]…genuinely and adequately philosophize" .-In Book VI of The Republic:Plato defined a philosopher...

’ to look after people in civility. Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 thought the polis was an ‘association of associations’ that enables citizens to share in the virtuous task of ruling and being ruled. His koinonia politike as political community
Community
The term community has two distinct meanings:*a group of interacting people, possibly living in close proximity, and often refers to a group that shares some common values, and is attributed with social cohesion within a shared geographical location, generally in social units larger than a household...

.

The concept of societas civilis is Roman and was introduced by Cicero
Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

. The political discourse in the classical period, places importance on the idea of a ‘good society’ in ensuring peace and order among the people. The philosophers in the classical period did not make any distinction between the state and society. Rather they held that the state represented the civil form of society and ‘civility’ represented the requirement of good citizenship. Moreover, they held that human beings are inherently rational so that they can collectively shape the nature of the society they belong to. In addition, human beings have the capacity to voluntarily gather for the common cause and maintain peace in society. By holding this view, we can say that classical political thinkers endorsed the genesis of civil society in its original sense.

The Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 saw major changes in the topics discussed by political philosophers. Due to the unique political arrangements of feudalism
Feudalism
Feudalism was a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, which, broadly defined, was a system for ordering society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.Although derived from the...

, the concept of classical civil society practically disappeared from mainstream discussion. Instead conversation was dominated by problems of just war
Just War
Just war theory is a doctrine of military ethics of Roman philosophical and Catholic origin, studied by moral theologians, ethicists and international policy makers, which holds that a conflict ought to meet philosophical, religious or political criteria.-Origins:The concept of justification for...

, a preoccupation that would last until the end of Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

.

The Thirty Years' War
Thirty Years' War
The Thirty Years' War was fought primarily in what is now Germany, and at various points involved most countries in Europe. It was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history....

 and the subsequent Treaty of Westphalia
Peace of Westphalia
The Peace of Westphalia was a series of peace treaties signed between May and October of 1648 in Osnabrück and Münster. These treaties ended the Thirty Years' War in the Holy Roman Empire, and the Eighty Years' War between Spain and the Dutch Republic, with Spain formally recognizing the...

 heralded the birth of the sovereign states system
Westphalian sovereignty
Westphalian sovereignty is the concept of nation-state sovereignty based on two things: territoriality and the absence of a role for external agents in domestic structures....

. The Treaty endorsed states as territorially-based political units having sovereignty. As a result, the monarchs were able to exert control domestically by emasculating the feudal lords and to stop relying on the latter for armed troops. Hencefore, monarchs could form national armies and deploy a professional bureaucracy and fiscal departments, which enabled them to maintain direct control and supreme authority over their subjects. In order to meet administrative expenditures, monarchs controlled the economy. This gave birth to absolutism
Absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy is a monarchical form of government in which the monarch exercises ultimate governing authority as head of state and head of government, his or her power not being limited by a constitution or by the law. An absolute monarch thus wields unrestricted political power over the...

. Until the mid-eighteenth century, absolutism was the hallmark of Europe.

The absolutist nature of the state was disputed in the Enlightenment period. As a natural consequence of Renaissance, Humanism, and the scientific revolution, the Enlightenment thinkers raised fundamental questions such as “What legitimacy does heredity confer?”, “Why are governments instituted?”, “Why should some human beings have more basic rights than others?”, and so on. These questions led them to make certain assumptions about the nature of the human mind, the sources of political and moral authority, the reasons behind absolutism, and how to move beyond absolutism. The Enlightenment thinkers believed in the inherent goodness of the human mind. They opposed the alliance between the state and the Church as the enemy of human progress and well-being because the coercive apparatus of the state curbed individual liberty and the Church legitimated monarchs by positing the theory of divine origin. Therefore, both were deemed to be against the will of the people.

Strongly influenced by the atrocities of Thirty Years' War, the political philosophers of the time held that social relations should be ordered in a different way from natural law
Natural law
Natural law, or the law of nature , is any system of law which is purportedly determined by nature, and thus universal. Classically, natural law refers to the use of reason to analyze human nature and deduce binding rules of moral behavior. Natural law is contrasted with the positive law Natural...

 conditions. Some of their attempts led to the emergence of social contract
Social contract
The social contract is an intellectual device intended to explain the appropriate relationship between individuals and their governments. Social contract arguments assert that individuals unite into political societies by a process of mutual consent, agreeing to abide by common rules and accept...

 theory that contested social relations existing in accordance with human nature. They held that human nature can be understood by analyzing objective realities and natural law conditions. Thus they endorsed that the nature of human beings should be encompassed by the contours of state and established positive law
Positive law
Positive law is the term generally used to describe man-made laws which bestow specific privileges upon, or remove them from, an individual or group...

s. Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury , in some older texts Thomas Hobbs of Malmsbury, was an English philosopher, best known today for his work on political philosophy...

 underlined the need of a powerful state to maintain civility in society. For Hobbes, human beings are motivated by self-interests (Graham 1997:23). Moreover, these self-interests are often contradictory in nature. Therefore, in state of nature
State of nature
State of nature is a term in political philosophy used in social contract theories to describe the hypothetical condition that preceded governments...

, there was a condition of a war of all against all. In such a situation, life was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short” (Ibid: 25). Upon realizing the danger of anarchy, human beings became aware of the need of a mechanism to protect them. As far as Hobbes was concerned, rationality and self-interests persuaded human beings to combine in agreement, to surrender sovereignty to a common power (Kaviraj 2001:289). Hobbes called this common power, state, Leviathan
Leviathan (book)
Leviathan or The Matter, Forme and Power of a Common Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil — commonly called simply Leviathan — is a book written by Thomas Hobbes and published in 1651. Its name derives from the biblical Leviathan...

.

John Locke
John Locke
John Locke FRS , widely known as the Father of Liberalism, was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social...

 had a similar concept to Hobbes about the political condition in England. It was the period of the Glorious Revolution, marked by the struggle between the divine right of the Crown and the political rights of Parliament. This influenced Locke to forge a social contract theory of a limited state and a powerful society. In Locke’s view, human beings led also an unpeaceful life in the state of nature. However, it could be maintained at the sub-optimal level in the absence of a sufficient system (Brown 2001:73). From that major concern, people gathered together to sign a contract and constituted a common public authority. Nevertheless, Locke held that the consolidation of political power can be turned into autocracy, if it is not brought under reliable restrictions (Kaviraj 2001:291). Therefore, Locke set forth two treaties on government with reciprocal obligations. In the first treaty, people submit themselves to the common public authority. This authority has the power to enact and maintain laws. The second treaty contains the limitations of authority, i. e., the state has no power to threaten the basic rights of human beings. As far as Locke was concerned, the basic rights of human beings are the preservation of life, liberty and property. Moreover, he held that the state must operate within the bounds of civil and natural laws.

Both Hobbes and Locke had set forth a system, in which peaceful coexistence among human beings could be ensured through social pacts or contracts. They considered civil society as a community that maintained civil life, the realm where civic virtues and rights were derived from natural laws. However, they did not hold that civil society was a separate realm from the state. Rather, they underlined the co-existence of the state and civil society. The systematic approaches of Hobbes and Locke (in their analysis of social relations) were largely influenced by the experiences in their period. Their attempts to explain human nature, natural laws, the social contract and the formation of government had challenged the divine right theory. In contrast to divine right, Hobbes and Locke claimed that humans can design their political order. This idea had a great impact on the thinkers in the Enlightenment period.

The Enlightenment thinkers argued that human beings are rational and can shape their destiny. Hence, no need of an absolute authority to control them. Both Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of 18th-century Romanticism. His political philosophy influenced the French Revolution as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological and educational thought.His novel Émile: or, On Education is a treatise...

, a critic of civil society, and Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher from Königsberg , researching, lecturing and writing on philosophy and anthropology at the end of the 18th Century Enlightenment....

 argued that people are peace lovers and that wars are the creation of absolute regimes (Burchill 2001:33). As far as Kant was concerned, this system was effective to guard against the domination of a single interest and check the tyranny of the majority (Alagappa 2004:30).

Modern history


G.W.F. Hegel
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was a German philosopher, one of the creators of German Idealism. His historicist and idealist account of reality as a whole revolutionized European philosophy and was an important precursor to Continental philosophy and Marxism.Hegel developed a comprehensive...

 completely changed the meaning of civil society, giving rise to a modern liberal
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 understanding of it as a form of market
Free market
A free market is a competitive market where prices are determined by supply and demand. However, the term is also commonly used for markets in which economic intervention and regulation by the state is limited to tax collection, and enforcement of private ownership and contracts...

 society as opposed to institutions of modern nation state. Unlike his predecessors, the leading thinker of the Romanticism considered civil society as a separate realm, a "system of needs", that stood for the satisfaction of individual interests and private property. Hegel held that civil society had emerged at the particular period of capitalism and served its interests: individual rights and private property. Hence, he used the German term "bürgerliche Gesellschaft" to denote civil society as "civilian society" – a sphere regulated by the civil code
Civil code
A civil code is a systematic collection of laws designed to comprehensively deal with the core areas of private law. A jurisdiction that has a civil code generally also has a code of civil procedure...

. For Hegel, civil society manifests contradictory forces. Being the realm of capitalist interests, there is a possibility of conflicts and inequalities within it. Therefore, the constant surveillance of the state is imperative to sustain moral order in society. Hegel considered the state as the highest form of ethical life. Therefore, the political state has the capacity and authority to correct the faults of civil society. Alexis de Tocqueville
Alexis de Tocqueville
Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville was a French political thinker and historian best known for his Democracy in America and The Old Regime and the Revolution . In both of these works, he explored the effects of the rising equality of social conditions on the individual and the state in...

, after comparing despotic France and democratic America, contested Hegel, putting weight on the system of civilian and political associations as a counterbalance to both liberal individualism and centralization of the state. Hence, Hegel's perception of social reality was followed in general by Tocqueville who distinguished between political society
State (polity)
A state is an organized political community, living under a government. States may be sovereign and may enjoy a monopoly on the legal initiation of force and are not dependent on, or subject to any other power or state. Many states are federated states which participate in a federal union...

 and civil society.

This was the theme taken further by Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

. For Marx, civil society was the ‘base
Base and superstructure
In Marxist theory, human society consists of two parts: the base and superstructure; the base comprehends the forces and relations of production — employer-employee work conditions, the technical division of labour, and property relations — into which people enter to produce the necessities and...

’ where productive forces and social relations were taking place, whereas political society was the 'superstructure
Base and superstructure
In Marxist theory, human society consists of two parts: the base and superstructure; the base comprehends the forces and relations of production — employer-employee work conditions, the technical division of labour, and property relations — into which people enter to produce the necessities and...

'. Agreeing with the link between capitalism and civil society, Marx held that the latter represents the interests of the bourgeoisie. Therefore, the state as superstructure also represents the interests of the dominant class; under capitalism, it maintains the domination of the bourgeoisie. Hence, Marx rejected the positive role of state put forth by Hegel. Marx argued that the state cannot be a neutral problem solver. Rather, he depicted the state as the defender of the interests of the bourgeoisie. He considered the state to be the executive arm of the bourgeoisie, which would wither away once the working class took democratic control of society.

This negative view about civil society was rectified by Antonio Gramsci
Antonio Gramsci
Antonio Gramsci was an Italian writer, politician, political philosopher, and linguist. He was a founding member and onetime leader of the Communist Party of Italy and was imprisoned by Benito Mussolini's Fascist regime...

 (Edwards 2004:10). Departing somehow from Marx, Gramsci did not consider civil society as coterminous with the socio-economic base of the state. Rather, Gramsci located civil society in the political superstructure. He underlined the crucial role of civil society as the contributor of the cultural and ideological capital required for the survival of the hegemony of capitalism. Rather than posing it as a problem, as in earlier Marxist conceptions, Gramsci viewed civil society as the site for problem-solving. Agreeing with Gramsci, the New Left
New Left
The New Left was a term used mainly in the United Kingdom and United States in reference to activists, educators, agitators and others in the 1960s and 1970s who sought to implement a broad range of reforms, in contrast to earlier leftist or Marxist movements that had taken a more vanguardist...

 assigned civil society a key role in defending people against the state and the market and in asserting the democratic will to influence the state. At the same time, Neo-liberal thinkers consider civil society as a site for struggle to subvert Communist and authoritarian regimes. Thus, the term civil society occupies an important place in the political discourses of the New Left and Neo-liberals.

Post-modern history


The post-modern way of understanding civil society was first developed by political opposition in the former Soviet block East European countries in the 1980s. From that time stems a practice within the political field of using the idea of civil society instead of political society
State (polity)
A state is an organized political community, living under a government. States may be sovereign and may enjoy a monopoly on the legal initiation of force and are not dependent on, or subject to any other power or state. Many states are federated states which participate in a federal union...

. However, in the 1990s with the emergence of the nongovernmental organizations and the New Social Movements (NSMs) on a global scale, civil society as a third sector
Voluntary sector
The voluntary sector or community sector is the sphere of social activity undertaken by organizations that are for non-profit and non-governmental. This sector is also called the third sector, in reference to the public sector and the private sector...

 became a key terrain of strategic action to construct ‘an alternative social and world order.’ Henceforth, postmodern usage of the idea of civil society became divided into two main : as political society and as the third sector – apart from plethora of definitions.

The Washington Consensus
Washington Consensus
The term Washington Consensus was coined in 1989 by the economist John Williamson to describe a set of ten relatively specific economic policy prescriptions that he considered constituted the "standard" reform package promoted for crisis-wracked developing countries...

 of the 1990s, which involved conditioned loans by the World Bank and IMF to debt-laden developing states, also created pressures for states in poorer countries to shrink. This in turn led to practical changes for civil society that went on to influence the theoretical debate. Initially the new conditionality led to an even greater emphasis on “civil society” as a panacea, replacing the state's service provision and social care, Hulme and Edwards suggested that it was now seen as “the magic bullet.” Some development political scientists cautioned that this view created new dangers. For instance, in “Let’s get Civil Society Straight” Whaites argued that the often politicized and potentially divisive nature of civil society was being ignored by some policy makers.

By the end of the 1990s civil society was seen less as a panacea amid the growth of the anti-globalization movement
Anti-globalization movement
The anti-globalization movement, or counter-globalisation movement, is critical of the globalization of corporate capitalism. The movement is also commonly referred to as the global justice movement, alter-globalization movement, anti-globalist movement, anti-corporate globalization movement, or...

 and the transition of many countries to democracy; instead, civil society was increasingly called on to justify its legitimacy and democratic credentials. This led to the creation by the UN of a high level panel on civil society http://www.un.org/reform/civilsociety/bios.shtml. Post-modern civil society theory has now largely returned to a more neutral stance, but with marked differences between the study of the phenomena in richer societies and writing on civil society in developing states. Civil society in both areas is, however, often viewed as a counter-poise and complement rather than an alternative in relation to the state, or as Whaites stated in his 1996 article, “the state is seen as a precondition of civil society”

Democracy


The literature on relations between civil society and democratic political society
State (polity)
A state is an organized political community, living under a government. States may be sovereign and may enjoy a monopoly on the legal initiation of force and are not dependent on, or subject to any other power or state. Many states are federated states which participate in a federal union...

 have their roots in early liberal writings like those of Alexis de Tocqueville
Alexis de Tocqueville
Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville was a French political thinker and historian best known for his Democracy in America and The Old Regime and the Revolution . In both of these works, he explored the effects of the rising equality of social conditions on the individual and the state in...

. However they were developed in significant ways by 20th century theorists like Gabriel Almond
Gabriel Almond
Gabriel A. Almond was an American political scientist best known for his pioneering work on comparative politics, political development, and political culture.-Biography:...

 and Sidney Verba
Sidney Verba
Sidney Verba is an American political scientist, librarian and library administrator. His academic interests are mainly American and comparative politics. He was the Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor at Harvard University. He also served Harvard as the director of the Harvard University...

, who identified the role of political culture in a democratic order as vital.

They argued that the political element of many voluntary organizations facilitates better awareness and a more informed citizenry, who make better voting choices, participate in politics, and hold government more accountable as a result. The statutes of these organizations have often been considered micro-constitutions because they accustom participants to the formalities of democratic decision making.

More recently, Robert D. Putnam has argued that even non-political organizations in civil society are vital for democracy. This is because they build social capital
Social capital
Social capital is a sociological concept, which refers to connections within and between social networks. The concept of social capital highlights the value of social relations and the role of cooperation and confidence to get collective or economic results. The term social capital is frequently...

, trust and shared values, which are transferred into the political sphere and help to hold society together, facilitating an understanding of the interconnectedness of society and interests within it.

Others, however, have questioned how democratic civil society actually is. Some have noted that the civil society actors have now obtained a remarkable amount of political power without anyone directly electing or appointing them. It has also been argued that civil society is biased towards the global north. Partha Chatterjee
Partha Chatterjee
Partha Chatterjee is a Subaltern Studies and Postcolonial scholar. He is a multi-disciplinary scholar, with special emphasis on political science, anthropology and history. Chatterjee received Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize in 2009 for his contributions in Academics.-Education:He completed a B.A...

 has argued that, in most of the world, "civil society is demographically limited." For Jai Sen civil society is a neo-colonial project driven by global elites in their own interests. Finally, other scholars have argued that, since the concept of civil society is closely related to democracy and representation, it should in turn be linked with ideas of nationality and nationalism.

Globalization


Critics and activists currently often apply the term civil society to the domain of social life which needs to be protected against globalization
Globalization
Globalization refers to the increasingly global relationships of culture, people and economic activity. Most often, it refers to economics: the global distribution of the production of goods and services, through reduction of barriers to international trade such as tariffs, export fees, and import...

, and to the sources of resistance thereto, because it is seen as acting beyond boundaries and across different territories. However, as civil society can, under many definitions, include and be funded and directed by those businesses and institutions (especially donors linked to European and Northern states) who support globalization
Globalization
Globalization refers to the increasingly global relationships of culture, people and economic activity. Most often, it refers to economics: the global distribution of the production of goods and services, through reduction of barriers to international trade such as tariffs, export fees, and import...

, this is a contested use. Rapid development of civil society on the global scale after the fall of the communist system was a part of neo-liberal strategies linked to the Washington Consensus
Washington Consensus
The term Washington Consensus was coined in 1989 by the economist John Williamson to describe a set of ten relatively specific economic policy prescriptions that he considered constituted the "standard" reform package promoted for crisis-wracked developing countries...

. Some studies have also been published, which deal with unresolved issues regarding the use of the term in connection with the impact and conceptual power of the international aid system (see for example Tvedt 1998).
On the other hand, others see globalization
Globalization
Globalization refers to the increasingly global relationships of culture, people and economic activity. Most often, it refers to economics: the global distribution of the production of goods and services, through reduction of barriers to international trade such as tariffs, export fees, and import...

 as a social phenomenon expanding the sphere of classical liberal
Classical liberalism
Classical liberalism is the philosophy committed to the ideal of limited government, constitutionalism, rule of law, due process, and liberty of individuals including freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and free markets....

 values, which inevitably led to a larger role for civil society at the expense of politically derived state institutions.

Civil society and constitutional economics


Constitutional economics
Constitutional economics
Constitutional economics is a research program in economics and constitutionalism that has been described as extending beyond the definition of 'the economic analysis of constitutional law' in explaining the choice "of alternative sets of legal-institutional-constitutional rules that constrain the...

 is a field of economics
Economics
Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Ancient Greek from + , hence "rules of the house"...

 and constitutionalism
Constitutionalism
Constitutionalism has a variety of meanings. Most generally, it is "a complex of ideas, attitudes, and patterns of behavior elaborating the principle that the authority of government derives from and is limited by a body of fundamental law"....

 which describes and analyzes the specific interrelationships between constitutional issues and functioning of the economy including budget process. The term “constitutional economics” was used by American economist – James M. Buchanan
James M. Buchanan
James McGill Buchanan, Jr. is an American economist known for his work on public choice theory, for which he received the 1986 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. Buchanan's work initiated research on how politicians' self-interest and non-economic forces affect government economic policy...

 – as a name for a new academic sub-discipline that in 1986 brought him the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his “development of the contractual and constitutional bases for the theory of economic and political decision-making.” Buchanan rejects “any organic conception of the state
State (polity)
A state is an organized political community, living under a government. States may be sovereign and may enjoy a monopoly on the legal initiation of force and are not dependent on, or subject to any other power or state. Many states are federated states which participate in a federal union...

 as superior in wisdom, to the individuals who are its members.” Buchanan believes that a constitution
Constitution
A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is...

, intended for use by at least several generations of citizens, must be able to adjust itself for pragmatic economic decisions and to balance interests of the state and society against those of individuals and their constitutional rights to personal freedom and private happiness.http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/economics/laureates/1986/buchanan.html

The Russian school of constitutional economics was created in the early twenty-first century with the idea that constitutional economics allows for a combined economic and constitutional analysis in the legislative, first of all, budget process
Budget process
A budget process refers to the process by which governments create and approve a budget, which is as follows:* The Financial Service Department prepares worksheets to assist the department head in preparation of department budget estimates...

, thus helping to overcome arbitrariness in the economic and financial decision-making and to open entrance to civil society into budget process. Russian model is based on the understanding that it is necessary to narrow the gap between practical enforcement of the economic, social and political rights granted by the constitution and the annual budget legislation
Legislation
Legislation is law which has been promulgated by a legislature or other governing body, or the process of making it...

 and administrative policies conducted by the government.
Constitutional economics studies such issues as the proper national wealth distribution. This also includes the government spending on the judiciary
Judiciary
The judiciary is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary also provides a mechanism for the resolution of disputes...

, which in many transitional and developing countries is completely controlled by the executive
Executive (government)
Executive branch of Government is the part of government that has sole authority and responsibility for the daily administration of the state bureaucracy. The division of power into separate branches of government is central to the idea of the separation of powers.In many countries, the term...

. The latter undermines the principle of powers' “checks and balances”, as it creates a critical financial dependence of the judiciary. It is important to distinguish between the two methods of corruption of the judiciary: the state (through budget planning and various privileges – being the most dangerous), and the private. The state corruption of the judiciary makes it almost impossible for any business to optimally facilitate the growth and development of national market economy. Without using a constitutional economics approach to the “Rule of Law and Economic Development”, it will be very difficult to build any kind of index for the appraisal of real separation of powers within any national legal system. The standards of constitutional economics when used during annual budget planning, as well as the latter's transparency to the society, are of the primary guiding importance to the implementation of the rule of law. Also, the availability of an effective court system, to be used by the civil society in situations of unfair government spending and executive impoundment
Impoundment
Impoundment is the election of a President of the United States not to spend money that has been appropriated by the U.S. Congress. The precedent for presidential impoundment was first set by Thomas Jefferson in 1801. The power was available to all presidents up to and including Richard Nixon, and...

 of any previously authorized appropriations, becomes a key element for the success of any influential civil society.

Examples of civil society institutions


  • academia
    Academia
    Academia is the community of students and scholars engaged in higher education and research.-Etymology:The word comes from the akademeia in ancient Greece. Outside the city walls of Athens, the gymnasium was made famous by Plato as a center of learning...

  • activist groups
  • charities
    Charitable organization
    A charitable organization is a type of non-profit organization . It differs from other types of NPOs in that it centers on philanthropic goals A charitable organization is a type of non-profit organization (NPO). It differs from other types of NPOs in that it centers on philanthropic goals A...

  • citizen
    Citizenship
    Citizenship is the state of being a citizen of a particular social, political, national, or human resource community. Citizenship status, under social contract theory, carries with it both rights and responsibilities...

    s' militia
    Militia
    The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

  • civic groups
  • clubs (sports, social, etc.)
  • community foundation
    Community foundation
    Community foundations are instruments of civil society designed to pool donations into a coordinated investment and grant making facility dedicated primarily to the social improvement of a given place...

    s
  • community organizations

  • consumers/consumer organizations
  • cooperative
    Cooperative
    A cooperative is a business organization owned and operated by a group of individuals for their mutual benefit...

    s
  • churches
  • cultural groups
  • environment
    Environmentalism
    Environmentalism is a broad philosophy, ideology and social movement regarding concerns for environmental conservation and improvement of the health of the environment, particularly as the measure for this health seeks to incorporate the concerns of non-human elements...

    al groups
  • foundations
  • intermediary organizations for the voluntary and non-profit sector
  • men's groups
  • non-governmental organization
    Non-governmental organization
    A non-governmental organization is a legally constituted organization created by natural or legal persons that operates independently from any government. The term originated from the United Nations , and is normally used to refer to organizations that do not form part of the government and are...

    s (NGOs)

  • non-profit organization
    Non-profit organization
    Nonprofit organization is neither a legal nor technical definition but generally refers to an organization that uses surplus revenues to achieve its goals, rather than distributing them as profit or dividends...

    s (NPOs)
  • policy institutions
  • political parties
  • private voluntary organizations (PVOs)
  • professional associations
  • religious organizations
  • social enterprise
    Social enterprise
    A social enterprise is an organization that applies business strategies to achieving philanthropic goals. Social enterprises can be structured as a for-profit or non-profit....

    s
  • support groups
  • trade union
    Trade union
    A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

    s
  • voluntary association
    Voluntary association
    A voluntary association or union is a group of individuals who enter into an agreement as volunteers to form a body to accomplish a purpose.Strictly speaking, in many jurisdictions no formalities are necessary to start an association...

    s
  • women's groups

Not every institution of civil society is a 'countervailing power' to the state.

See also


  • Portal:Politics
  • Associationalism
    Associationalism
    Associationalism is a political project where "human welfare and liberty are both best served when as many of the affairs of a society as possible are managed by voluntary and democratically self-governing associations." Associationalism "gives priority to freedom in its scale of values, but it...

  • Judiciary
    Judiciary
    The judiciary is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary also provides a mechanism for the resolution of disputes...

  • Civic association
    Civic Association
    The Hong Kong Civic Association is a political group founded in 1954 in Hong Kong by Dr. Hilton Cheong-Leen. In 1975 it claimed a membership of 10,000....

  • Civics
    Civics
    Civics is the study of rights and duties of citizenship. In other words, it is the study of government with attention to the role of citizens ― as opposed to external factors ― in the operation and oversight of government....

  • Civil affairs
    Civil Affairs
    Civil Affairs is a term used by both the United Nations and by military institutions , but for different purposes in each case.-United Nations Civil Affairs:...

  • Civil liberties
    Civil liberties
    Civil liberties are rights and freedoms that provide an individual specific rights such as the freedom from slavery and forced labour, freedom from torture and death, the right to liberty and security, right to a fair trial, the right to defend one's self, the right to own and bear arms, the right...

  • Anarchism
    Anarchism
    Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority in the conduct of human relations...

  • Civil religion
    Civil religion
    The intended meaning of the term civil religion often varies according to whether one is a sociologist of religion or a professional political commentator...

  • Civil and political rights
  • Communitarianism
    Communitarianism
    Communitarianism is an ideology that emphasizes the connection between the individual and the community. That community may be the family unit, but it can also be understood in a far wider sense of personal interaction, of geographical location, or of shared history.-Terminology:Though the term...

  • Constitutional economics
    Constitutional economics
    Constitutional economics is a research program in economics and constitutionalism that has been described as extending beyond the definition of 'the economic analysis of constitutional law' in explaining the choice "of alternative sets of legal-institutional-constitutional rules that constrain the...

  • Cultural hegemony
    Cultural hegemony
    Cultural hegemony is the philosophic and sociological theory, by the Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci, that a culturally diverse society can be dominated by one social class, by manipulating the societal culture so that its ruling-class worldview is imposed as the societal norm, which then is...

  • Democracy
    Democracy
    Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

  • Foucault–Habermas debate
  • Global civics
    Global civics
    Global civics suggests to understand civics in a global sense as a social contract between the world citizens in the age of interdependence and interaction...

  • Global governance
    Global governance
    Global governance or world governance is the political interaction of transnational actors aimed at solving problems that affect more than one state or region when there is no power of enforcing compliance. The modern question of world governance exists in the context of globalization...

  • Human rights
    Human rights
    Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

  • Liberal nationalism
  • Mass society
    Mass society
    Mass society is a description associated with society in the modern, industrial era. "Guided by the structural-functional approach and drawing on the ideas of Tönnies, Durkheim, and Weber, understands modernity as the emergence of a mass society...

  • Non-state actor
    Non-state actor
    Non-state actors are categorized as entities participating or acting in the sphere of international relations; organisations with sufficient power to influence and cause change in politics which are...

  • Open society
    Open society
    The open society is a concept originally developed by philosopher Henri Bergson and then by Austrian and British philosopher Karl Popper. In open societies, government is purported to be responsive and tolerant, and political mechanisms are said to be transparent and flexible...

  • Political science
    Political science
    Political Science is a social science discipline concerned with the study of the state, government and politics. Aristotle defined it as the study of the state. It deals extensively with the theory and practice of politics, and the analysis of political systems and political behavior...

  • Public interest litigation
    Public interest litigation
    In Indian law, Public Interest Litigation OR जनहित याचिका means litigation for the protection of the public interest. It is litigation introduced in a court of law, not by the aggrieved party but by the court itself or by any other private party...

  • Rule of law
    Rule of law
    The rule of law, sometimes called supremacy of law, is a legal maxim that says that governmental decisions should be made by applying known principles or laws with minimal discretion in their application...

  • Rule According to Higher Law
    Rule according to higher law
    The rule according to a higher law means that no written law may be enforced by the government unless it conforms with certain unwritten, universal principles of fairness, morality, and justice...

  • Social capital
    Social capital
    Social capital is a sociological concept, which refers to connections within and between social networks. The concept of social capital highlights the value of social relations and the role of cooperation and confidence to get collective or economic results. The term social capital is frequently...

  • Social economy
    Social economy
    Social economy refers to a third sector in economies between the private sector and business or, the public sector and government. It includes organisations such as cooperatives, non-governmental organisations and charities....

  • Social entrepreneurship
    Social entrepreneurship
    Social entrepreneurship is the work of social entrepreneurs. A social entrepreneur recognizes a social problem and uses entrepreneurial principles to organize, create and manage a venture to achieve social change . While a business entrepreneur typically measures performance in profit and return, a...

  • Social innovation
    Social innovation
    Social innovation refers to new strategies, concepts, ideas and organizations that meet social needs of all kinds - from working conditions and education to community development and health - and that extend and strengthen civil society....

  • Sociology
    Sociology
    Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

  • Power
  • Voluntary sector
    Voluntary sector
    The voluntary sector or community sector is the sphere of social activity undertaken by organizations that are for non-profit and non-governmental. This sector is also called the third sector, in reference to the public sector and the private sector...

  • Yearbook of International Organizations
    Yearbook of International Organizations
    Yearbook of International Organizations, established in 1910 and published under current title since 1950 is a reference work on non-profit international organizations...



Civil-society scholars

  • Jeffrey C. Alexander
    Jeffrey C. Alexander
    Jeffrey Charles Alexander is an American sociologist, and one of the main proponents of Neofunctionalism.-Career:Alexander gained his BA from Harvard in 1969 and his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in 1978...

  • Helmut Anheier
    Helmut Anheier
    Helmut K. Anheier is an academic currently serving as Dean of the Hertie School of Governance. His research interests include methodological questions of sociological research with different units of analysis, organizational theory and the interaction of globalisation and civil society more...

  • Andrew Arato
    Andrew Arato
    Andrew Arato is Dorothy Hart Hirshon Professor of Political and Social Theory in the department of sociology at The New School University. Born in 1944, he received his PhD in history from the University of Chicago. He is best known for his influential book Civil Society and Political Theory,...

  • Phillip Blond
    Phillip Blond
    Phillip Blond is an English political thinker, Anglican and theologian, and director of the think tank ResPublica.He gained prominence from a cover story in Prospect magazine in the February 2009 edition with his essay on Red Toryism, which proposed a radical communitarian traditionalist...

  • Benjamin Barber
    Benjamin Barber
    Benjamin R. Barber is an American political theorist and author perhaps best known for his 1996 bestseller, Jihad vs. McWorld.-Career:...

  • Daniel Bell
    Daniel Bell
    Daniel Bell was an American sociologist, writer, editor, and professor emeritus at Harvard University, best known for his seminal contributions to the study of post-industrialism...

  • Robert N. Bellah
  • Walden Bello
    Walden Bello
    Walden Bello is a Filipino author, academic, and political analyst. He is a professor of sociology and public administration at the University of the Philippines Diliman, as well as executive director of Focus on the Global South...

  • Jean L. Cohen
    Jean L. Cohen
    Jean L. Cohen is Professor of Political Science at Columbia University. She specializes in contemporary political and legal theory with particular research interests in democratic theory, critical theory, Civil society, gender and the law. She received her PhD in 1979 from the New School for...

  • Michael Edwards
    Michael Edwards (academic)
    Michael Edwards is a writer and activist who has worked in various positions in foundations, think-tanks and international development institutions and who has written widely on civil society, philanthropy and social transformation...

  • Jean Bethke Elshtain
    Jean Bethke Elshtain
    -Biography:She is the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics at the University of Chicago Divinity School, and is a contributing editor for The New Republic. She is, in addition, newly the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Chair in the Foundations of American Freedom at...

  • Amitai Etzioni
    Amitai Etzioni
    Amitai Etzioni is a German-Israeli-American sociologist.-Biography:In 1933, Amitai Etzioni was only four years old when the Nazis rose to power in Germany. He was separated from his family but reunited with them by the year 1947...

  • Francis Fukuyama
    Francis Fukuyama
    Yoshihiro Francis Fukuyama is an American political scientist, political economist, and author. He is a Senior Fellow at the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford. Before that he served as a professor and director of the International Development program at the School of...

  • Ernest Gellner
    Ernest Gellner
    Ernest André Gellner was a philosopher and social anthropologist, described by The Daily Telegraph when he died as one of the world's most vigorous intellectuals and by The Independent as a "one-man crusade for critical rationalism."His first book, Words and Things —famously, and uniquely...

  • Susan George (political scientist)
    Susan George (political scientist)
    Susan George is a well-known Franco-American political and social scientist, activist and writer on global social justice, Third World poverty, underdevelopment and debt. She is a fellow and president of the board of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam...

  • Jürgen Habermas
    Jürgen Habermas
    Jürgen Habermas is a German sociologist and philosopher in the tradition of critical theory and pragmatism. He is perhaps best known for his theory on the concepts of 'communicative rationality' and the 'public sphere'...

  • Peter Dobkin Hall
    Peter Dobkin Hall
    Peter Dobkin Hall is an American author and historian. He is Professor of Public Affairs at Baruch College, CUNY], and Senior Research Fellow at the , Harvard University....

  • Mary Kaldor
    Mary Kaldor
    Mary Kaldor is a British academic, currently Professor of Global Governance at the London School of Economics, where she is also the Director of its Centre for the Study of Global Governance. She has been a key figure in the development of cosmopolitan democracy...

  • Barry Dean Karl
    Barry Dean Karl
    Barry Dean Karl was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the second of the three sons of Anne Simons Karl and Aaron Karl. He was educated in the public schools of Louisville....

  • John Keane
  • David Korten
    David Korten
    David C. Korten is an American economist, author, and former Professor of the Harvard Business School, political activist and prominent critic of corporate globalization, "by training and inclination a student of psychology and behavioral systems". His best-known publication is When Corporations...

  • John W. Meyer
    John W. Meyer
    John W. Meyer is a sociologist and professor at Stanford University, located in Palo Alto, California, noted for his contributions to the study of organizations, diffusion, and modern mass education...

  • Frank Moulaert
    Frank Moulaert
    Frank Moulaert is Professor of Spatial Planning at the Department of Architecture, Urban Design and Regional Planning at Catholic University of Leuven. He is Director of the Urban and Regional Planning Research Group and chairs the Leuven Space and Society Research Centre at the University...

  • Michael O'Neill
    Michael O'Neill (educator)
    Michael O'Neill received a doctorate in education from Harvard University in 1967.He is one of the pioneers in non-profit management education and founded the Institute for Nonprofit Organization Management at the University of San Francisco....

  • Elinor Ostrom
    Elinor Ostrom
    Elinor Ostrom is an American political economist. She was awarded the 2009 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, which she shared with Oliver E. Williamson, for "her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons." She was the first, and to date, the only woman to win the prize in...

  • Robert D. Putnam
  • Michael Sandel
    Michael Sandel
    Michael J. Sandel is an American political philosopher and a professor at Harvard University. He is best known for the Harvard course 'Justice' which is available to , and for his critique of Rawls' A Theory of Justice in his Liberalism and the Limits of Justice...

  • Charles Taylor
    Charles Taylor (philosopher)
    Charles Margrave Taylor, is a Canadian philosopher from Montreal, Quebec best known for his contributions in political philosophy, the philosophy of social science, and in the history of philosophy. His contributions to these fields have earned him both the prestigious Kyoto Prize and the...

  • Lori Wallach
    Global Trade Watch
    Global Trade Watch was founded by Lori Wallach in 1995 as a division of the U.S.-based advocacy group Public Citizen that monitors the World Trade Organization and other trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Central America Free Trade Agreement...

  • Alan Whaites


External links