Civil Society: Assumptions to Debunk

Topics: Civil society, Democracy, Non-governmental organization Pages: 3 (541 words) Published: December 4, 2011
THOMAS CAROTHERS Winter 1999-2000

Valentina Carlino AY 2010-2011

literature case studies

The Concept of Civil Society is a Recent Invention
DEF. a domain parallel to but separate from the state; a realm where citizens associate according to their own interests and wishes (Paine, Hegel) DEF. a special nucleus of independent political activity, a crucial sphere of struggle against tyranny (Gramsci) DEF. a means for social renewal (US, WE)

NGOs Are the Heart of Civil Society
civil society (broader) ≠ NGOs civil society: organizations and associations that exist outside of the state and the market (political parties, labor unions, chambers of commerce, religious organizations, cultural organizations, sports clubs) NGOs: play important roles but in many countries they are outweighed by more traditional parts of civil society

Civil Society is Warm and Fuzzy
“civil society everywhere is a bewildering array of the good, the bad, and the outright bizarre” (Carothers) - Russian mafia and militia groups, local parent-teacher association civil ≠ civic restricting would make the concept “a theological notion, not a political or sociological one” (Rief)

A Strong Civil Society Ensures Democracy
valuable role in advancing democracy BUT if strong it can reflect dangerous political weaknesses (eg. Germany in 1920-30s) 1960’s warning: the proliferation of interest groups in mature democracies could choke the workings of representative institutions and distort policy outcomes in favor of the rich and well connected or the better organized

Democracy Ensures a Strong Civil Society
Japan, France, Spain: democracies but weak civil societies political parties and elections are what ensure a pluralism of political choices a strong belief in civil society should not fuel an intolerant attitude toward different kinds of democracies no strict causality

Civil Society Is Crucial for Economic Success
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