The concept of "civil society" was borrowed from eighteenth-century Europe to provide a framework for understanding the transition to post-authoritarian regimes in Latin America and postcommunist regimes elsewhere. In China, the Democracy Movement forced the concept onto the intellectual agenda during the struggle to come to terms with the growth of dissent and the failure of student activism to find a secure foothold. The question that drives this book is whether this concept is useful for analyzing China, and if so, in what ways and within what limits.
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