On Civil Society

Laurence Whitehead

in Democratization

Published in print July 2002 | ISBN: 9780199253289
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600326 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Democratization

On Civil Society

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Outlines first the genealogy of current theories of civil society, and then (given their diversity) settles for a stipulative definition. This definition highlights the issues of ‘civility’, and therefore directs attention to the scope for ‘incivility’ within a democratic framework. After reviewing the potential for tension between ‘civil society’ and ‘democratic citizenship’, it outlines some relevant experiences from new democracies. It concludes that the civil society debate helps to situate processes of democratization in their long‐term societal context, but it also confirms the gap separating theory from ‘really existing’ democratic experiences.

Keywords: citizenship; civil society; civility; incivility

Chapter.  10413 words. 

Subjects: Politics

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