Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Civil Society and Government

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Civil Society and Government

Article excerpt

Civil Society and Government, edited by Nancy L. Rosenblum and Robert C. Post.

A very helpful collection of essays covering the issue of the relationship between the sphere of "civil society" and the function of government by "the state." It is difficult to praise too much the scope, comprehensiveness, and depth of this collection-difficult, but not impossible. First, one should note an absence: this is a work dedicated almost entirely to the concept of civil society in political or other normative theory; there is no attempt to look at historical or sociological work on civil society, except in various, scattered, footnotes. Also, what is perhaps the book's greatest virtue-its comprehension of a multitude of positions (Feminism, Critical Theory, Protestantism, Confucianism, Natural Law theories)-is also a slight but significant weakness. The very diversity of views simultaneously puts intense pressure on the concepts of "civil society" and "state"-tugging them in different, and not always compatible, directionswhile also generating a good deal of overlap in their coverage (one sometimes senses an almost maniacal urge to reinvent the wheel among the authors of these pieces). …

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