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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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8. Weak Civic Participation and Democratic Consolidation145


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Chapter 8 Weak Civic Participation and Democratic Consolidation1

This chapter addresses the question of how far democratic consolidation in post-communist countries depends on the development of flourishing civil societies. Its aim is to analyze the problem of civic and political participation in the post-communist context in light of contemporary democratic theory, the concept of democratic consolidation, and the thesis of the ‘weakness of civil society in post-communist countries’. It is argued that the institutional approach to democratization and participation does not provide a full answer to the question of how democratic systems become consolidated, and thus it needs to be supplemented by the cultural approach. In the second part I discuss the reasons why the development of civil society is perceived to be an important aspect of the democratization process as well as the major challenges and obstacles for the growth of vibrant civil societies in the region. The analysis of the patterns of democratic participation in post-communist countries is further complicated by their background conditions, the burden of the communist past, and the model of democratization that they have undertaken, and which can be defined as a form of democratic elitism. It does not require widespread participation and a robust civil society for democracy to succeed. On the other hand, a strong civil society has been seen by many theorists as a necessary condition for a stable democratic order. The collapse of communism opened a new and more difficult phase in the development of...

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