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Civil Society on the Move

Transition and Transfer in Germany and South Korea

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Eun-Jeung Lee and Hannes B. Mosler

Following the transformation of the Soviet-controlled Eastern European system, there has been a renewal of discourses on civil society. The collection of essays discusses this complicated and controversial concept and explores the possibility of new approaches for the study of Korean civil society and democracy. Combining interdisciplinary and transregional research, it contributes directly to the field of democracy after democratization and sheds light on concepts of civil society, developments of various civil society organizations and student movements in Germany, Korea, and Eastern Europe.
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Civil Society and Political Theory

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This study analyzes the development of civil society in Western and Eastern Europe as well as in the Arab cultural region from a political theory perspective. The author’s chief contention is on the interrelationship of civil society and democracy, and that while the existence of civil society does not guarantee democracy, it is difficult for a new democracy to form in places where civil society has not matured at all.

The concept of civil society is neither self-explanatory nor self-evident. For many protest and activist groups and organizations, it is just what they are doing or would like to do: Protesting in the streets, taking part in public discussions, but not taking institutional responsibility. If parts of former protest movements come to power and have to make hard choices, the hard decisions which are frustrating for some of the former dreams, there is often the inclination to consider them as treacherous from the point of view of the movement.

Only since the 1960s have scholars begun to relate the civil society discourse with social movements, especially with protest groups left of center. Jürgen Habermas, one the foremost theoreticians of civil society, defined civil society in a negative way as the social sphere which is not the state, not the market, and of course also not the private life (Reese-Schäfer 2001: 91ff.; Habermas 1992: 443). So it is some kind of public activity with political or semi-political content. It is more or less...

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