Civil society

Functions of democracy as forms of political organization. Its differences from dictatorship and stages of historical development. Signs and methods of stabilizing of civil society. Essence of social order and duty, examples of public establishments.

Рубрика Политология
Вид контрольная работа
Язык английский
Дата добавления 11.08.2011
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1. The concept of the democracy

2. The history of civil society

3. The definition of the civil society

3.1 Array of organisations

3.2 Social order and responsibility


The list of the used literature


Civil society groups - charities, faith-based organizations, trade unions, advocates and others outside government, family and commerce - have proven essential elements in fully functioning democracies. Perhaps for this very reason, these groups around the world face unprecedented assaults from authoritarian policies and governments on their autonomy, ability to operate, and right to receive international assistance. Recent years have witnessed proliferating efforts by various governments to restrict the space in which civil society organizations in general and democracy groups in particular operate.

The Defending Civil Society project is an ongoing effort to develop strategies and build solidarity among activists and groups pushing back against laws repressing nongovernmental organizations.

Together, state, market, civil society constitute the entirety of a society, and the relations between these components determine the character of a society and its structure. Building the well ordered society, or restoring the social order, entails reinvigorating the mediating institutions of society that transmit and reinforce personal and social responsibility and moral constraint--and it entails restoring the public (including the state) recognition of normative values that bind citizens and their institutional affiliations into a truly civil society. In a country where the state has incrementally absorbed many social functions and where the political system has become so debased as to have largely lost its moral and philosophical moorings, the renewal of political culture needs necessarily to be among the high priorities in rebuilding the well ordered society.


Democracy can be defined as:

1. government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.

2. a state having such a form of government: The United States and Canada are democracies.

3. a state of society characterized by formal equality of rights and privileges.

4. political or social equality; democratic spirit.

5. the common people of a community as distinguished from any privileged class; the common people with respect to their political power.

So, the Democracy is a form of political organization in which all people, through consensus (consensus democracy), direct referendum (direct democracy), or elected representatives (representative democracy) exercise equal control over the matters which affect their interests.

The ideals of democracy in the historical development haven't been constant. They changed with the development of social thought and political practice. The term comes from the Greek: дзмпксбфЯб - (dзmokratнa) "rule of the people", which was coined from д?мпт (dкmos) "people" and ксЬфпт (Kratos) "power", in the middle of the 5th-4th century BC to denote the political systems then existing in some Greek city-states, notably Athens following a popular uprising in 508 BC.

The "majority rule" is often described as a characteristic feature of democracy, but without governmental or constitutional protections of individual liberties, it is possible for a minority of individuals to be oppressed by the "tyranny of the majority". An essential process in "ideal" representative democracies is competitive elections that are fair both substantively and procedurally. Furthermore, freedom of political expression, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press are considered by some to be essential so that citizens are informed and able to vote in their personal interests.

The pecularity of modern democracy is its spreading to other areas of life - cultural, economic, social, etc. As written, Ilyin, "nowadays the concept of democracy has expanded and evolved to include not only the behavior of a form of political power (participation in government), but also ideological and, more generally, attitudes to relationships between people as well as moral and even philosophical premise of human existence in modern conditions, and, as some researchers (S. Pivovarov, AI Fursov), democracy - is not only the state but also - the process. In essence, democracy is a synonym for "democratization."

Even though there is no specific, universally accepted definition of 'democracy', equality and freedom have been identified as important characteristics of democracy since ancient times. These principles are reflected in all citizens being equal before the law and having equal access to power. For example, in a representative democracy, every vote has equal weight, no restrictions can apply to anyone wanting to become a representative, and the freedom of its citizens is secured by legitimized rights and liberties which are generally protected by a constitution.

Can not deny the fact that non-democratic regimes in several countries were able to raise living standards, expand school education, reducing child mortality, partially solve the problems of health and social welfare. At the same time can not deny that democracy can fail to lead to economic crisis, social inequality and violence. Modern democracy is based on the diverse nature of man, which is developing, changing and transforming. In a democracy, people can use what they will be useful for personal development, thanks to the opportunities provided by democracy.

Democracy rests upon the principles of majority rule, coupled with individual and minority rights. All democracies, while respecting the will of the majority, zealously protect the fundamental rights of individuals and minority groups. Democracies guard against all-powerful central governments and decentralize government to regional and local levels, understanding that local government must be as accessible and responsive to the people as possible.

Democracies understand that one of their prime functions is to protect such basic human rights as freedom of speech and religion; the right to equal protection under law; and the opportunity to organize and participate fully in the political, economic, and cultural life of society. Democracies conduct regular free and fair elections open to all citizens. Elections in a democracy cannot be facades that dictators or a single party hide behind, but authentic competitions for the support of the people.

Democracy subjects governments to the rule of law and ensures that all citizens receive equal protection under the law and that their rights are protected by the legal system. Democracies are diverse, reflecting each nation's unique political, social, and cultural life. Democracies rest upon fundamental principles, not uniform practices.

Citizens in a democracy not only have rights, they have the responsibility to participate in the political system that, in turn, protects their rights and freedoms. Democratic societies are committed to the values of tolerance, cooperation, and compromise. Democracies recognize that reaching consensus requires compromise and that it may not always be attainable. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.”


Unlike a dictatorship, a democratic government exists to serve the people, but citizens in democracies must also agree to abide by the rules and obligations by which they are governed. Democracies grant many freedoms to their citizens including the freedom to dissent and criticize the government.

Citizenship in a democracy requires participation, civility, and even patience since the beginning of it's existence.

The Classical Period. Socrates, advocated that issues be resolved via public argument using the dialectic, a form of rational dialogue in which the arguers test propositions against other propositions in order to uncover the truth, that is, until they achieve a reasoning that cannot be refuted. Plato. A just society is one in which people dedicate themselves to the common good, practice civic virtues of wisdom, courage, moderation and justice, and perform the occupational role to which they are best suited. Aristotle thought the state was an `association of associations' that enables citizens to share in the virtuous task of ruling and being ruled.

The Middle Ages. Saint Augustine wrote his City of God, in which he subordinated belief in a natural law of society based on reason, to one based on faith in God. Submission to the will of God, as elucidated by the fear-inducing institutions of Church and State. Martin Luther and John Calvin. Their main contribution to the idea of civil society was not that the State should be similarly replaced, but rather that people should be;' free to choose their own religious commitments while demonstrating charity and service to their neighbours.

The Age of Reasoning. Hobbes stated that social relations are to be based on equality and mutual trust, and each person must "performe their covenants made", which is to say they must live up to their agreements and contracts. John Locke, argued that the power of the state should be limited so as not to threaten the basic rights of the citizens. Thus, he advocated that individuals be allowed to meet together, form associations, and enter into relations of their choice. Particularly in reference to churches, he said the state had no authority to set religious doctrines.

Rousseau devised the idea of the social contract as a means whereby citizens would make the common good their highest priority. This is accomplished by each person subjugating their right for the individual pursuit of happiness to that of their community's right for collective well-being. Smith held that the binding principle of civil society was a private morality predicated on public recognition by one's peers, joined through bonds of moral sentiment. Immanuel Kant's main principle regarding civil society was that people should treat other people as ends in themselves rather than means to the ends of others.In this regard, he was the first to suggest that a functional civil society should be seen as distinct from the state.

Hegel envisioned civil society as a separate sphere from the state, one in which people were both workers as well as consumers of other people's work. As consumers, people strive to be equal to others, yet to satisfy a need for recognition they must consume distinctive goods. Karl Marx. Under capitalism, wealthy owners of the means of production treat workers as a commodity, using them as machine tenders in increasingly sophisticated technologically-based systems of goods manufacture. They expropriate the surplus value of their labour, and use this capital both to enrich themselves and to further expand and develop their business.

By the end of the 1990s civil society was seen less as a panacea amid the growth of the anti-globalization movement and the transition of many countries to democracy. Post-modern civil society theory has now largely returned to a more neutral stance.


democracy historical civil society

The institution of civil society, in all its forms, is not the ancient political system. For some observers, it only includes political activity engaged in through nonprofit organizations such as nongovernmental organizations. At the other end of the spectrum, some observers include all forms of voluntary participation, whether in the public or private sector, political or apolitical.

It's art of a society or culture outside the government and state-run institutions. For Karl Marx and G W F Hegel, civil society was that part of society where self-interest and materialism were rampant, although Adam Smith believed that enlightened self-interest would promote the general good. Classical writers and earlier political theorists such as John Locke used the term to describe the whole of a civilized society.

· Civil society includes not just the individuals who participate, but the institutions they participate in--sometimes called "civil society organizations" or "CSOs". Thus, civil society is strong to the degree that those CSOs are large and powerful.

· A civic culture is one in which most people think their government is legitimate and that their institutions (if not the leaders at any particular moment) can be trusted.

· Social capital is the human equivalent of economic capital. It is an intangible resource accumulated by civil society that can be expended when a society finds itself in crisis.

A well developed civil society helps stabilize the political system in several ways:

1. Units of civil society ameliorate social problems. E.g., the amount of need for government action to respond to inadequate housing in a community is reduced by the private actions of a group like Habitat for Humanity. Even where poor housing persists, the existence of such groups symbolizes that society alone can solve problems.

2. Units of civil society, by being self governing and usually democratic in their internal processes, serve as learning laboratories in democratic arts of following prescribed procedures and compromise. They further socialize adults in the norms of the overall system.

3. Units of civil society aggregate our separate grievances into larger group sets of grievances, while they also divert some of the existing level of social demand from being focused solely on the political system. E.g., neighbors upset with rising levels of crime, by organizing and meeting in Neighborhood Watch committees, may alter the form of demands made on a city government.

Such organizations may, if successful, reduce the intensity of future demand by other individuals onto the political system by lowering crime, and by providing individuals an alternative course of action.


There is an adopted definition of civil society developed by a number of leading research centers: “the term civil society to refer to the wide array of non-governmental and not-for-profit organizations that have a presence in public life, expressing the interests and values of their members or others, based on ethical, cultural, political, scientific, religious or philanthropic considerations. Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) therefore refer to a wide of array of organizations: community groups, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), labor unions, indigenous groups, charitable organizations, faith-based organizations, professional associations, and foundations”.

Examples of civil society institutions can be:


activist groups


citizens' militia

civic groups

clubs (sports, social, etc.)

community foundations

community organizations and many others.


The term “order” in social order indicates the absence of chaos and the presence of principles of cohesion. It refers to the condition of all the parts of society working harmoniously for the good of the whole in service to the members of society. Society itself may be broadly understood as being comprised of three interrelated macro systems of organization--political, economic, and cultural--within each of which various institutions facilitate the satisfaction of the diverse material and intangible needs and desires of the members. The question of social order, then, is how social relations are most satisfactorily governed among individuals and the institutions that make up society.

First, an individual can join an organization that promotes some aspect of civil society. Second, individuals can act as individuals with no significant organizational commitment. On one level, it is hard for states to foster civil society. As most of the scholars have written on the subject point out, states by their nature are coercive bodies. Sometimes that coercion is relatively benign -- don't drive over the speed limit, don't drink alcohol before you turn 21, pay your taxes on time. Sometimes the coercion can be brutal as is the case in a totalitarian regime. But there always is a degree of force in the "state-society" relationship.


Civil society has become an important concept in the social sciences, and has emerged as a central topic among policymakers and practitioners alike. With such prominence comes a need for clearer understanding, better information and ways to position civil society and its various dimensions in the context of economy, polity and society at large.

Civil society can be measured in various ways and at different levels: as separate units, each with specific characteristics, measures and data; or as a composite entity that combines individual components. Moreover we can measure civil society at local, regional, national and even international levels.

Not all observers agree that civil society is important at all. Marxists, in particular, argue that civil society and, especially, a civic culture tend to frustrate change and progress toward a more just and equitable society.

However, there is growing agreement that civil society, civic culture, and social capital are all important for strengthening democracy and enabling conflict resolution. To be fair, the first academic discussions of civil society were naive, all but suggesting that any expansion of civic engagement was good for democracy. This is important both for the building of democracy and for resolving conflict, because such values as trust and tolerance are important for both.


1. Michael Edwards, Civil Society - Polity, 2009. - 171 p.

2. Sudipta Kaviraj, Sunil Khilnani, Civil society: history and possibilities - Cambridge University Press, 2001. - 330 p.

3. Keith Tester, Civil society - Taylor & Francis, 1992. - 187 p.

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