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The Handbook of Political, Social, and Economic Transformation$
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Wolfgang Merkel, Raj Kollmorgen, and Hans-Jürgen Wagener

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198829911

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198829911.001.0001

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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: 17 June 2021

Civil Society Approach

Civil Society Approach

(p.151) Chapter 15 Civil Society Approach
The Handbook of Political, Social, and Economic Transformation

Grzegorz Ekiert

Oxford University Press

The idea of civil society resurrected in the 1970s has been one of the most important concepts guiding reflection on political transformations of contemporary societies. This chapter discusses various understandings of the concept and the asserted role civil society has in shaping political and economic outcomes. It points to established consensus on the beneficial role of civil society as a political project and a set of normative principles, but it emphasizes disagreements about how civil society is defined and measured, how it evolves over time, what dimensions of politics and public policy it shapes, and what are the mechanisms through which it affects the quality of democracy and resistance to authoritarianism. It also explores the idea of the civil society strategy as a distinct mode of political transformations as opposed to the revolutionary strategy. Finally, it suggests that civil society can be construed as a discrete analytical optics for analysing political change.

Keywords:   civil society, revolution, associational life, public realm, neo-Tocquevillian tradition, democracy, democratization, civil society strategy, regime transformations

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