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Explaning the Meaning of a Civil Society

What is 'civil society'? Define Civil Society, the historical development of the term, and explain its principle value in the democratic state.

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The term civil society is a centuries-old product of European political thought that has, over the last decade, enjoyed renewed popularity. In most definitions 'civil society' typically includes a wide range of relationships and institutions, including, trade unions, voluntary associations, churches and the free market. The modern conception of civil society contrasts with its treatment in classical political philosophy: before the mid-eighteenth century civil society and the state were interchangeable terms. Here, the concept was used simply to draw the distinction between the 'civilized' and 'uncivilized' conditions of humanity. It was not until late eighteenth century Anglo-American political thought (specifically that of John Locke, Thomas Paine and Adam Ferguson) recognized the importance of guarding against the authoritarian potential of the state that the two were ...

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The solution provides a concise explanation from a historical & sociological point of view what Civil Society is about; is it a sociologically constructed concept or is it a product of human civilization that has come to be the defining concept of how humanity organizes itself?