Habermas and Foucault: Thinkers for Civil Society?
Mark Haugaard and Stewart R. Clegg, eds., Power and Politics, Vol. 2, London: Sage, pp. 117-140
24 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2013
Date Written: April 1, 2012
Vaclav Havel observed that a strong civil society is a crucial condition of strong democracy. Empowering civil society is a central concern for the project of democracy, just as the question of how best to think about such empowerment is important to social and political theory. But what is ‘civil society’? A search for clear definitions in the relevant literature is in vain. Not because the concept lacks definitions; rather the definitions are too multiple and varied to bring clarity. Most writers on civil society agree, however, that civil society has an institutional core constituted by voluntary associations outside the sphere of the state and the economy. Such associations range from, for example, churches, cultural associations, sport clubs and debating societies to independent media, academies, groups of concerned citizens, grass-roots initiatives and organizations of gender, race and sexuality, all the way to occupational associations, political parties and labour unions (Habermas 1992a: 453).
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation