Civil Society

Fabian Kessl


Civil Society can be defined in three different ways. Firstly, the classical debate from Aristotle to Montesquieu (and Tocqueville) understood civil society in a republican sense as the political space of the citizens (the citoyen in the polis). Secondly, in the pre-modern tradition from Locke to Smith we can identify liberal concepts of civil society as the private space of the free citizens beyond the political space (the bourgeois). And thirdly, the Hegelian-Marxist definition of civil society from Hegel to Gramsci calls attention to the power structure of civil society (hegemony) as a part of the advanced (capitalist) state. The contributions in this third group of conceptions seek to synthesize the anti-thesis of citoyen and bourgeois.

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