A Processual-relational Approach to Civil Society

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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.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCivil Society : Between Concepts and Empirical Grounds
EditorsLiv Egholm, Lars Bo Kaspersen
Number of pages28
Place of PublicationAbingdon
Publication date2021
ISBN (Print)9780367340957
ISBN (Electronic)9780429323881
Publication statusPublished - 2021
SeriesRoutledge Advances In Sociology

Bibliographical note

Published November 30, 2020.

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