civil society

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G. W. F. Hegel (1770—1831) German philosopher

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The set of intermediate associations which are neither the state nor the (extended) family; civil society therefore includes voluntary associations and firms and other corporate bodies. The term has been used with different meanings by various writers since the eighteenth century, but this main current usage is derived from Hegel.

The need to (re)build civil society after the collapse of communism in eastern Europe has been a common theme of reformers and commentators there since 1991. The communist regime had disapproved of the institutions of civil society. Therefore, apart from hardy examples such as the Catholic Church in Poland, there was not a lot of it about.

Subjects: Social Sciences.

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