Civil Societies and Social Movements: Potentials and Problems

Civil Societies and Social Movements: Potentials and Problems

Civil Societies and Social Movements: Potentials and Problems

Civil Societies and Social Movements: Potentials and Problems

Synopsis

This volume examines and contributes to debates surrounding social capital, social movements and the role of civil society in emerging forms of governance.

The authors adopt a broad range of research approaches, from testing hypotheses drawn from rationale choice theory against available statistics on associations, to ethnographic study of emerging attempts at participant / deliberative democracy. Divided into three clear sections, focusing on the following core aspects of civil society:

• the position of civic organizations between state and society in emerging forms of governance

• the geographical scales of social movement mobilizations and actions from the local to the global

• the patterns of public trust and civic engagement that falls under the rubric of social capital.

The book draws on case studies from a wide range of countries, including: Russia, Ukraine, Britain, Greece, Spain, Germany, Argentina and new Asian democracies.

Presenting current research on the key dimensions of civil society, Civil Societies and Social Movements will appeal to those researching and studying in the fields of political science, sociology and social policy.

Excerpt

Derrick Purdue

This volume brings together current research on three analytical dimensions of civil society – the position of civic organizations between state and society in emerging forms of governance; the geographical scales of social movement mobilizations and actions from the local to the global; and the patterns of public trust and civic engagement that falls under the rubric of social capital. the book aims to advance theory in each of these areas, which are topical themes within political science and sociology, as well as policy and practice literatures. the research underpinning the book has been conducted in a wide range of countries within and beyond Europe, and applies and develops a range of quantitative and qualitative methodologies.

Over the past decade and a half, civil society has been acknowledged to be of increasing significance within political science, social research and policy making. Civil society is broadly considered to be the cradle of democracy, yet it remains a highly contested concept. the concept of civil society has a complex genealogy of shifting meanings, according to the rhetorical needs of the day. in contrast to community (which is concerned with familiarity), civil society indicates the ability to deal with strangers without using force, and so is ideally suited to examining cities, the places where strangers meet. Civil society thus implies a level of mutual trust between strangers, who may therefore pass among each other in the physical space of cities and trade with one another. For these reasons civil society was seen as underpinning the functioning of the emerging capitalist market by the economists and philosophers of eighteenth-century Scotland (Seligman in Taylor 2003). Civil society was later viewed as playing a similar role in nation states and liberal democracies. Hegel, writing in early nineteenth-century Germany, used the state–civil society couplet to contrast the historic collective project of the Prussian state to the sphere of egoist impulses in civil society, in which he included the emerging capitalist economy. Tocqueville, exploring the nature of democracy in America in the mid-nineteenth century, excluded the economy from civil society, and focused his interest on the right to free association and the presence of informal organizations (Keane 1988).

After a period of abeyance, the concept of civil society re-emerged in the early 1990s to describe the transition to liberal democracy of former communist . . .

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