The Politics of Forward and Backward Infiltration: Towards a Dynamic Theory of Civil Society

Sociological Theory, Forthcoming

54 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2018  

Steven Klein

University of Florida - Department of Political Science; Department of Political and Social Sciences; University of Chicago

Cheol-Sung Lee

Sogang University

Date Written: April 9, 2018

Abstract

This article develops a conceptual framework to theorize the processes of mutual penetration between civil society, the state, and the economy, where incumbents and challengers continuously formulate new strategies against each other. We criticize the prevailing Weberian and Tocquevillian concepts of civil society, and then, drawing on research in social movements and comparative political economy, propose a new framework: the politics of forward and backward infiltration. Under each form of infiltration, we delineate three sub-modes: the politics of influence, the politics of substitution, and the politics of occupation, which correspond to strategies for discursive influence, functional replacement, and institutional take-over, respectively. We challenge the exclusive focus on ‘the politics of influence’ as inadequate for analyzing these processes, while highlighting the other two modes as necessary additions. Finally, we elucidate the implications of our theory of forward and backward infiltration for the study of civil society and participatory democracy more generally.

Keywords: civil society; social theory; participatory democracy; political economy

Suggested Citation

Klein, Steven and Lee, Cheol-Sung, The Politics of Forward and Backward Infiltration: Towards a Dynamic Theory of Civil Society (April 9, 2018). Sociological Theory, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3159621

Steven Klein (Contact Author)

University of Florida - Department of Political Science ( email )

PO Box 117325
Gainesville, FL 32611-7325
United States

Department of Political and Social Sciences ( email )

Via dei Roccettini 9
San Domenico di Fiesole
Florence, 50014
Italy

University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Cheol-Sung Lee

Sogang University

Seoul 121-742
Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

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