Civil Society in Eastern Europe

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29 Νοε 2013 (πριν από 3 χρόνια και 8 μήνες)

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This volume is basically individual chapters
on civil society. I read the intro and the
end bit to sort of get a jist of the book.


Chris Hann, Civil Society: Challenging Western Models

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Question to be answered: how does an idea with its origins in European
intellectual discourse have very different referents varying significantly
within European Societies.

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Seligman’s three models of ‘civil society’

o

Civil Society as a “slogan”…..ephermal,

journalistic, very little meaning

to it

o

Civil Society as a positive, analytic term for social sciences, with
concrete referents that can be investigated

o

Civil Society as a normative concept, a distinctive vision of a desirable
social order

-

Volume addres
s all of them.
Two

main takeaway points from the book:

o

Civil society debates have been too narrowly circumscribed by
modern western models of liberal individualism

o

Study of civil society must pay attention to informal,

interpersonal
practices

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First meani
ngful examinations of civil society…..happened during Scottish
enlightenment

o

Ferguson: How do resolve tension between the selfish goals of
individual actors and needs of basic collective solidarity

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Hegel first drew a distinction between Civil society and
state

o

Adam Smith refined that to say that civil society was mainly an
economic interaction

o

Marx saw Civil society as a ploy…freedom of action was a means to
cover up class conflict

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Two strands in Western thought open up: Is civil society means of class
exploitation or is it a means to freely associate?

o

Invariably thought of in the Western terms….no explorations of other
ways to form human bonds

-

Dominant meaning of Civil Society in Western terms: Civil Society invariably
tied up in liberal individualism
and in constant opposition to the State

Civil Society in Eastern Europe

-

Most of the work has centered around elites…..but a lot of the literature has
ignored a large chunk of civil society in E. Europe has rejected these elites
who made transitions to Dem
ocracy and seek to preserve commie ways

o

In actuality….civil society in E. Europe has not fit the romanticized
version of C. society in W. Literature

o

Civil society has taken backseat as these countries go through
transition and people are concerned with
basic needs (jobs etc.)



Question posed by author: Why so much W. Aid to ‘civil society’
in E. Europe then?


Contents of this Volume

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Universalists tend to see this
civil

society

as a concrete and quantifiable
thing, usually with the implication that a lar
ge dose is indispensable in the
general quest for good government

-

On the other hand there are relativists

basically, those who recognise that
other societies have organised their social and political life in terms of
different, often incommensurable ideals

-

Author: Both these camps, in their extreme, are fundamentally
wrong….universalists don’t accept cultural nuances and relativists fail to pick
up on general trends of
civil society

-

Author:
civil

society

to refer more loosely to the moral community, to the

problems of accountability, trust and co
-
operation that all groups face. In this
sense, all human communities are concerned with establishing their own
version of a
civil

society
, or
civilization.

o

Need a more
in
clusive

usage of
civil

society
, in which it

is not defined
negatively,

in opposition to the state, but
positively

in the context of
the ideas and practices through which cooperation and trust are
established in social life

-

Two definitions of political society:

o

Political
society

in the narrow sense is that element in the model of
Tocqueville which constitutes a necessary supplement to dualist
models

that contrast the state and its people, the private citizens.
Examples such as that provided by Poland in recent years show the
inad
equacy of this dualist model.

o

Political
society

in the broader sense (and the main sense for
anthropology) corresponds to the broader, looser notion of
civil

society

outlined above. All human communities are held together by
shared values and ideals. This
makes them all inherently political.