Civil Society

Civil society describes the public sphere that exists between the state and the private domain (e.g., family and free market). It is characterized by a variety of voluntary associations: religious organizations, political groups, educational institutions, community service clubs, and so on. As such, civil society occupies a unique space in the public domain, through which individuals and groups can pursue social and political activism. Civic activism, as performed through civil society, is not always “civil,” however. While civil society is often lauded for creating virtuous circles of civic participation and democracy, in many instances, civil-society groups can be described as existing for nefarious purposes. Additionally, while it is often assumed that civil society can only exist within the framework of democratic governments, recent social movements, ...

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