civil society

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Related to Civic nations: nationalist, ultranationalism

civil society

(as used by HEGEL and MARX) market and economic relations (in contrast with the activity of the STATE); a realm intermediate between the family and the state. More generally, the realm of wider social relations and public participation, as against the narrower operations of the state or of the economy.

The earliest usages of the term in political and social philosophy were to contrast both ‘civil society’ and ‘civil government’ with ‘natural society’ or the ‘state of nature’. In the Scottish Enlightenment, Adam FERGUSON used the term in contrasting Western CIVILIZATION, and its associated forms of government and politics, with non-Western forms of society and their more ‘despotic forms of government (see also ORIENTAL DESPOTISM). The economic and political freedoms associated with civil society are regarded by Marxists as sometimes apparent rather than real (e.g. protecting the interests of private property and capital and enshrining significant freedoms, but instilling selfish individualism and masking underlying economic exploitation, ALIENATION, the loss of earlier community, etc). However, within Marxism, as well as in sociology generally the historical significance of the differentiation of civil society from ‘nature’, the family, and the 'S tate’ is acknowledged on all sides. Distinctions in any of the above senses between civil society and the state operate, even if, as emphasized by GRAMSCI, the state plays a role in the establishment of civil society, and the establishment of civil society also plays a part in protecting or in changing particular state forms (compare PUBLIC SPHERE). See also CIVIL RIGHTS, PUBLIC SPHERE.

References in periodicals archive ?
In addition to ethnic nations, Brubaker points to how political leaders might imagine two other variants of the nation in the context of states--nationalizing and civic nations. Nationalizing nations exist when state leaders attempt to establish their territory as a nation-state--the state of and for a particular nation of which they perceive themselves to be part.
(1) Rather than constructing a state-sponsored national identity based exclusively on ethnic Kazakh culture to assimilate the large non-Kazakh portion of the population, the leaders of Kazakhstan have opted for a multiethnic civic nation aiming to enfranchise all of its citizens completely, regardless of their cultural identities.
A certain Ramsay Cook, the one who called me a "national socialist" in the late sixties, defines the ethnic nation as having "a language, history and culture that marks them out as a separate people," while "a civic nation" has only "common civic values" (Globe & Mail, November 10, 2006).
Is Scotland a civic nation? I asked my colleague Don Forbes.
I wonder if that "we" is what Stout means by a "civic nation?" (17) Drawing on the work of David Hollinger, Stout reminds us that three formidable constituencies--a business elite, those with diaspora identities, and middle Americans--that comprise America are all members of a "civic nation." Yet Stout also maintains that it is a grave mistake to believe a nation like America could become a community in the communitarian sense.
Even the United States is not a perfect civic nation. Despite its universalist claims, the United States was led from its origins until the 1960s by a largely Anglo-Saxon elite.