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The Ambivalences of Civil Society

Keywords: Civil society , post-fordism , competitive nation state , potentials for democratisation , public sphere and subspheres , social movements

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Abstract:

This article discusses the conceptual heterogeneity in the field of ‘civil society’ in the light of a distinction between positions that reflect civil society as a democratic-emancipatory category and positions that consider civil society from the perspective of the state: as an instrumental resource for the technocratic planning of the competitive nation state.The article discusses the implications and perspectives in these two different strategic scenarios for conceptualizing civil society. The argument is made that civil society in relation to democratic citizenship should basically rather be understood as a concept for specific, communicative principles for institutionalizing societal relations and organizing public experience than as an overall concept for third sector organizations.

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