The Contextuality of the Concept of Civil Society—from Particular Meanings to the Common Vector of Emancipation
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Polish Academy od Sciences
Publication date: 2009-03-30
Polish Sociological Review 2009;165(1):63–80
This article is about the evolution of the concept of civil society which has been taking place in response to the changing socio-political context. This process can be observed from two different perspectives. On the one hand, the concept is clearly contextual—it is always embedded in the problems of particular times and particular societies. On the other hand, the observed changes have a common vector. This can be seen in the parallel vicissitudes of the concept and its designates—social emancipation in modern times has been turbulent and erratic. One of the main advocates of this perspective is Amartya Sen (2002). This perspective also helps us to view contemporary civil societies as located on the aforementioned vector. This article tries to reconstruct it using a taxonomical analysis of aggregated data from the International Social Survey Programme 2004: Citizenship. The diversity of attitudes and patterns of civil activity in contemporary democracies is certainly multidimensional but the main axis is apparently defined by the post-industrial social formation and post-materialistic orientation