Civil Society

Clement M. Henry and Jolie M. F. Wood

in Islamic Studies

ISBN: 9780195390155
Published online December 2009 | | DOI:
Civil Society


The most general definition of “civil society” that is widely accepted in the early 21st century describes it as the realm of associational life between the individual or family and the state. The concept of civil society is often regarded as a specifically western European construct that can be applied only with difficulty, if at all, to regions outside western Europe and the United States or only to societies where civil liberties, such as freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, are guaranteed; where the rights of minorities are protected; or where democratic institutions of governance are established. Other scholars argue that the term can be reinterpreted to describe the essential dynamics of public deliberation, interest-group formation, and demands for government accountability that exist in various forms in a broad spectrum of societies and polities. With regard to the Muslim world in particular, the debate over the concept’s universality is especially sharp, as many of the works cited below will illustrate.

Article.  6173 words. 

Subjects: Islam

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