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Civil Society, Democracy and Democratization


Dorota Pietrzyk-Reeves

The book contributes to the ongoing discussion and research on civil society in the context of democracy and democratization. It provides a theoretical analysis of civil society, participation, the public sphere and democratic consolidation in light of normative democratic theory and the challenges of democratic transformation in Central and Eastern Europe. It also offers a novel approach to some of the key issues in that debate including corruption and democratic consolidation, active citizenship, civic unity and the rule of law as well as theories of democratization. Finally, it asks the question as to whether a properly functioning democracy must be complemented with civil society and the numerous roles it plays in a political community of free citizens.
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2. Anti-communist Opposition and Civil Society33


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Chapter 2 Anti-communist Opposition and Civil Society

The idea of civil society, which has become a major concept for the analysis of post-communist transformation and democratization worldwide, was revived by the democratic opposition intellectuals and independent movements in Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. The meaning of the concept of ‘civil society’ they applied, however, was somewhat different from what was meant by civil society in Western Europe and in later post-communist liberal democracies. Civil society is usually understood as a public space outside the state and the economy where citizens organize themselves and pursue their shared goals, and exercise their civil rights (freedom of association, free speech etc.). It is the sphere where free people communicate and interact on the basis of their interests, views, needs, goals, and where they express their opinions and create various social networks. Its primary feature is independence from the government – as a free and independent social space between the state and private citizens it calls for openness and plurality. The civil society that developed under communism involved social unity against the state, whereas civil society in a liberal democracy lacks this kind of unity and has a positive relation to the state. Its primary feature is independence from the government. Being a free and independent social space amid the state and private citizens, it calls for openness and plurality. Democratic opposition movements in Eastern and Central Europe did not aspire to overthrow the communist state, but they did seek a...

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