Civil society appears to the reader as a theoretical, empirical, and normative category. This chapter has three parts. The first will set the scene by identifying the origin of the sectoral perspective in the 1980s, emphasizing its three main limitations: infusing empirical analysis with strong normative assumptions; employing an a priori definition of civil society; and presuming a rigid dichotomization between civil society and the state. The second part reviews new strands in present scholarship on civil society, identifying three currents with potential to disentangle civil society research from the limits of the sector perspective: avoiding an a priori definition of civil society; reshaping the unit of analysis; and emphasizing the (historical) processes of defining, performing, and practicing civil society. The third part advances these currents and paves the way forward for a processual-relational approach to understanding civil society at large.
|Title of host publication||Civil Society : Between Concepts and Empirical Grounds|
|Editors||Liv Egholm, Lars Bo Kaspersen|
|Number of pages||28|
|Place of Publication||Abingdon|
|Publication status||Published - 2021|
|Series||Routledge Advances in Sociology|
Published November 30, 2020.