chapter  9
14 Pages

Social conditions: dual roles of semi-civil society

A pluralist and self-organizing civil society independent of the state is often assumed to be an indispensable condition for democracy. It is also assumed that the successful transformation to democratic politics depends upon the development of a civil society. If there is no strong civil society, there will be no emancipation and no democracy in the modern world (Gouldner, 1980, 371; Keane, 1988, 31-62). As the Philippines experience illustrates, civil society makes the democratic transition much more irreversible, and reduces the prospect that authoritarian forces (old or new) may overthrow or somehow capture the new democracy (Diamond et al., 1987, 43). Thus the assumption of the positive influence of civil society on democracy is made. However, the danger of a violent and overpoliticized civil society has been addressed by some writers (Ahn, 1991; Cohen and Arato, 1992, 57), which suggests a negative effect of civil society on democracy in the process of democratization. Thus, the question of the dual roles of civil society in a transition to democracy needs to be studied.