chapter  2
19 Pages

Concepts and Conceptions of Civil Society

The term ‘civil society’ is vague. It is employed so often, in so many different ways and in so many different theoretical, practical, and historical contexts that contemporary attempts to deploy it in democratic theory are typically more obfuscating than illuminating. Our bewilderment only increases when we discover that most civil society theorists offer intuitive, ostensive, or paradigmatic accounts of it rather than something more rigorous. In the end, we fi nd ourselves with a broad array of alternatives, each of which is ambiguously related to the others and none of which appears to represent the most basic account.