This chapter begins to shift the focus towards analysis of how public policy is processed in today’s world with reference to the emotions and motives that have been discussed in Chapters 4 to 6. A central question to be discussed in the following chapters is how the many policy ideas that are churning around the social environment of political systems, that is civil society, are filtered to become issues that form part of a government’s agenda and may then become so embedded in the social fabric of the state that they enter the arena of the largely non-conscious assumptions within the social environment. This chapter, therefore, begins with a broad and largely theoretical discussion on the nature of power within civil society as a basis for framing answers to the question of who, if any, are the beneficiaries and the excluded in the struggles to develop and implement public policy within what may be termed civil society. The concept of ‘civil society’ has a variety of definitions but is often used to denote

‘the sphere of private interests, associations and material needs, independent of the state’ (Gamble 1988: 255). Thus, the term pertains to the actions and motives of individuals and collectively social groups. As such civil society is clearly made of many opinions and values that because of their subjective nature cannot be fully understood or appreciated by anyone but the individual holding that particular set of ideas at any particular time. Civil society is, in a world divided by nationalities, and social and economic groups, a complex and differentiated phenomenon. Its manifestations on the one hand can in totalitarian states appear on the surface to be highly uniform as the state attempts to control civil society. In contrast in liberal society the values inherent in the freely determined thoughts of citizens are often expressions of a desire to shape and control the state and may appear to be highly diverse. Few theorists of civil society, however, argue that civil society is such an anarchic and undifferentiated concept that it lacks any form of organisation and structure. The ideas of individuals do not emerge as some form of spontaneous creation but through experience and interaction with the physical and social environment in which we live. Association with and dependence on others create structures within society that in turn may promote and maintain common sources of ideas and action as policy. Frequently the concept of civil society is used, following the ideas of the German nineteenth century philosopher George Hegel, to designate social and political values in society as distinct from the values harboured within the sphere of those who govern. However, it is in liberal democracies and even in the most autocratic of states difficult to clearly separate those who govern from the society over which they may have at least a measure of influence. Thus, an important question that can be raised within any state is how the relationship between civil society and the state determines what policy ideas emerge as

serious issues that require further development by governments to become matters controlled by public policy edicts.