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Civil society

Pearce, Jenny (2022) Civil society. In: Kurtz, Lester, (ed.) Encyclopedia of Violence, Peace, & Conflict. Elsevier, 1 - 8. ISBN 9780128201954

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Identification Number: 10.1016/B978-0-12-820195-4.00186-2


Civil society has a long conceptual history, notably in Western political philosophy. Empirically, it can be understood in terms of the voluntary associational sphere, which in modern society lies between family, state, and market. Philosophically and normatively, it captures the varied imaginings of how humans might live together without violence and the ongoing search for how to ensure a shared or common good in any human community. This article discusses the concept's much contested history in centuries of search for the latter. While “civil society” has had moments of high visibility and moments when it has seemed to disappear from discussion, the article shows that it remains a vital concept. It cannot be argued that the associations of civil society guarantee civility or nonviolence. However, a more contingent approach rooted in the normative search for these values demonstrates that civil society remains conceptually and empirically a vital arena of human action and agency for peace. It highlights, for instance, the importance of the autonomous movements, and organizations needed to desanction violence, oppose war, and build connections across our diverse and divided communities in order to address the problems facing people and planet.

Item Type: Book Section
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2022 Academic Press
Divisions: IGA: Latin America and Caribbean Centre
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Date Deposited: 08 Feb 2022 09:06
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2023 10:17

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