1. Civil Society As a Normative Concept15
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Chapter 1 Civil Society As a Normative Concept
Civil society can be understood as a sphere of voluntary associations, organizations and social movements as well as various initiatives that create networks of trust and solidarity, which serve many different communal goals. It is a civic space that provides room for cooperation with others, a sphere of various types of relations among people who share the same values, attitudes, norms or interests and are willing to engage in activities that require responsibility for common or public matters. Since it is the concept of citizenship that seems to be a central category for the understanding of the idea of civil society, its origins can go back to Aristotle’s political philosophy. In his Politics he defined a citizen as the one who takes turn in ruling and being ruled and whose main concern is that of the common good and not the of private interest.1 The idea of civil society that we use today can be derived from two traditions of political thought: the classical republican tradition that goes back to Aristotle and Cicero, and the liberal individualist tradition that originates in the works of John Locke and Thomas Hobbes in the seventeenth century. The two traditions present different visions of social order and it seems more appropriate to use the term ‘civic community’ while referring to the classical republican tradition, and the term ‘civil society’ in the context of the liberal tradition. Despite numerous differences, they share...
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