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The Civil Sphere$
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Jeffrey C. Alexander

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195162509

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195162509.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 23 October 2021

Bringing Democracy Back In

Bringing Democracy Back In

Realism, Morality, Solidarity

(p.37) Chapter 3 Bringing Democracy Back In
The Civil Sphere

Jeffrey C. Alexander

Oxford University Press

Any discussion of the civil sphere is inextricably intertwined with an analysis of democracy as a political form. This chapter begins by reviewing the two broad approaches that marked the social scientific treatment of democracy in the last half of the twentieth century. After suggesting the limitations of each, it argues that democracy depends on the existence of solidary bonds that extend beyond political arrangements. Solidarity is civil only if it combines collective with individual obligations. Civil solidarity can be sustained only by a democratic language, a discourse that allows the abstract and universal commitments of the civil sphere to take concrete and imagistic forms. Justice is possible if there is civil solidarity, which itself depends on the vitality of a fluent and provocative moral discourse.

Keywords:   civil sphere, democracy, solidary bonds, civil solidarity, justice

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