The Civil Society Reader (Civil Society: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives)
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Virginia Hodgkinson and Michael Foley have assembled a definitive collection of 24 readings from the writings of thinkers who have shaped the civil society tradition in Western political thought through the ages. Their clear, intelligent introduction establishes a framework for understanding the complex and perennial debate over conditions of citizenship and the character of the good society. The text moves from the origins of the debate, a consideration of Aristotle’s vision of political order, the polis, through the “civic republicanism” of Machiavelli and his English and American followers. It also discusses Hobbes’s and Montesquieu’s conceptions of natural law and the social contract, Immanuel Kant and Adam Ferguson and the emergence of the modern notion of civil society in the late 18th century, and the thoughts and theories of Hegel, Marx, and Gramsci.
Contemporary discussion of civil society in the US started with Berger, Newhaus, and others who addressed the role of intermediary institutions and the political process. In the 1980s, especially as the Cold War ended, writing on civil society exploded. The anthology tracks the key works that have influenced public dialogue in this era. Chapters by Walzer, Barber, Putnam, Almond and Verba, Shils, and others describe the role of association in civil society and its role in democratic governance. As the concept of “civil society” grows ever more prominent in academic and public considerations of politics and political organization, citizen participation, political alienation, voluntary organizations, privatization, government deregulation, and “faith-based” charities, Civil Society: A Reader is the essential historical and theoretical text.
reference. These are shared attitudes toward what is needed or wanted in a given society, observable as demands or claims upon other groups in the society. The term “interest group” will be reserved here for those groups that exhibit both aspects of the shared attitudes. 7. George A. Lundberg, Foundations of Sociology (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1939). Hodgkinson: The Civil Society Reader page 161 Truman: The Governmental Process • 161 The shared attitudes, moreover, constitute the
emerged, since the supply of appropriate soil was sharply limited; a system of slavery was developed; and the joint family was broken up into its constituent households. Finally, as a result of these changes in relationships and interests, and with the introduction of conflicts stemming from differences in wealth, the decentralized and almost undifferentiated political institution became a centralized tribal kingship.20 Alterations in response to technological or other changes are more rapid and
Second Treatise of Government, Book II, §87, in John Locke, Two Treatises of Government, rev. ed. (New York: New American Library, 1965) p. 367. 3. Adam Seligson claims to have found Ferguson’s answer in a Scottish theory of “moral sentiments” that sees the new source of unity in modern society in the sense of honor and shame that accompanies human beings’ concern for their “good reputation.” There is scant trace of such a stance in Ferguson’s text, however; and Seligson’s interpretation seems to
for the most part, either sold in the market, or killed, that he might never return to strengthen his party. When this was the issue of war, it was no wonder, that battles were fought with desperation, and that every fortress was defended to the last extremity. The game of human life went upon a high stake, and was played with a proportional zeal. The term barbarian, in this state of manners, could not be employed by the Greeks or the Romans in that sense in which we use it; to characterize a
meeting, and they are forced, in a manner, to know and adapt themselves to one another. It is difficult to force a man out of himself and get him to take an interest in the affairs of the whole state, for he has little understanding of the way in which the fate of the state can influence his own lot. But if it is a question of taking a road past his property, he sees at once that this small public matter has a bearing on his greatest private interests, and there is no need to point out to him the