FEATURES OF CIVIL SOCIETY
Realm of organized social life that is voluntary, self-generating,
(largely) self-supporting, autonomous from the state, & bound by a
legal order or set of shared rules.
Involves citizens acting collectively in public sphere to express
interests, passions, & ideas, exchange information, achieve
mutual goals, make demands on state, & hold state officials
Intermediary standing between private sphere & state.
Restricts state power-- but legitimizes state authority when
that authority is based on rule of law. ORGANIZATIONS CONSTITUTING CIVIL SOCIETY
Economic (productive & commercial associations & n
Cultural (religious, ethnic, communal, etc);
Informational & educational (produce & disseminate
public knowledge, ideas, news, information);
Interest-based (advance or defend common interests of
such members as workers, veterans, pensioners,
Developmental (combine individual resources to improve
infrastructure, institutions, &quality of life of
Issue-oriented (movements for environmental protection,
women’s & minority rights, land reform, etc);
Civic (nonpartisan improvement of polity through human
rights monitoring, voter education & mobilization,
anticorruption efforts, etc). ORGANIZATIONS OF CIVIL SOCIETY ARE DISTINGUISHED BY:
1. Concern with public ends.
2. Relation to state in seeking concessions, benefits,
policy changes, relief, redress, accountability.
3. Encompassing pluralism & diversity. Do not seek to
monopolize a functional or pol space in society, or claim
to represent only legitimate path.
4. Partial, i.e., do not seek or claim to represent the
whole of a person’s or community’s interests.
5. Do not seek direct political power (parties). FUNCTIONS OF CIVIL SOCIETY IN TRANSITIONAL
& CONSOLIDATING DEMOCRACIES
1. Provide basis for limitation of state power, i.e., control of
state by society by mobilizing civil society to expose abuses:
a. Monitor & restrain exercise of power by state;
b. Democratize authoritarian states.
2. Supplement role of parties in stimulating political participation,
increasing efficacy & skill of citizens, promoting appreciation of
obligations & rights of citizens.
3. Arena for development of other democratic attributes: tolerance,
moderation, compromise, respect for opposing viewpoints.
4. Create channels other than parties for articulation,
aggregation, & representation of interests, esp among minorities
such as women, racial & ethnic groups.
5. Generate wide range of interests that cross-cut & mitigate principal
polarities of conflict.
6. Recruiting & training political leaders. Learn such political
skills as organization, mobilization, debating, fund raising, budget
formation, agreement negotiation, coalition building.
7. Support democracy through nonpartisan election
monitoring, support of judicial & legal reform, prison reform, etc.
8. Disseminate information aiding citizens in collective pursuit
& defense of interests & values.
9. Disseminate new ideas & information.
10. Give citizens respect for the state & positive engagement
with it, thus enhancing the state’s legitimacy. FEATURES OF A DEMOCRATIC CIVIL SOCIETY
1. Goals & methods of groups do not contain maximalist,
uncompromising, antidemocratic components.