Concept and Role of Civil Society in Democracy

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Concept and Role of Civil Society in Democracy

By | November 2010
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Concept and Role of Civil Society in Democracy

The concept of civil society was introduced in Rome by Cicero. In the classical Greek time the state and civil society were al-most in equal status.

Civil Societies' meaning and role has been different in different historical phases of political discourse. In the period of mid eighteenth century as a consequence of renaissance, humanism and scientific revolution, legitimacy of absolutism was questioned. That started seeking about the sources of political and moral authority and the reason behind absolutism. So the churches who legitimated absolutism were against the will of people. The danger of anarchism caused human beings to be aware of the need for the mechanism to protect themselves.

According to Hobbes rationality and self interest persuade human beings to combine in agreement to surrender sovereignty to a common power (which he called leviathan). The social contract theory of Hobbes stated two types of relationship. One was vertical, between the leviathan and the people, the latter submitted themselves to the former. The second system was the realm of horizontal relationship among the people. In that system people were compelled to limit their natural rights in a way that would not harm the right of others. The first is state and the second is civil society. In Hobbes' paradigm, the formation of civil society lead to the formation of government, state and laws. The concept of state of nature and sovereignty of state lead to the realism which defined the nature of relationship between the state and the civil society.

The modern meaning in sociological perspective of civil society is based on the works of David Held (1987-95). According to him, Civil Society retains a distinctive character to the extent that it is made- up of areas of social life. This social life includes the domestic world, the economic sphere, cultural activities and political interaction. These areas of social life are...

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