Civil Society in the Shadow of the Danish Welfare State

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In this chapter, I argue that the notion and discourse of civil society has played a central part in the transformation of the Danish welfare state since the 1970s. The argument is that civil society always exists in the shadow of the state, meaning that only through legislation and funding can something like civil society exist. However, the state also produces civil society discursively by constructing a particular type of civil society that is concurrent with its given political project, or at least not in direct opposition to it. Through Hegel’s notion of civil society as something that only comes into being through the recognition of the state and Foucault’s notion of civil society as a transactional reality, I analyze the role of civil society strategies in Danish civil society since 2010. I show that here, civil society is produced as something with inherent, positive values, which must be used to rescue and improve welfare society. Civil society is thereby produced as a service provider of the state and emptied of its political content as a site of contestation and critique.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCivil Society : Between Concepts and Empirical Grounds
EditorsLiv Egholm, Lars Bo Kaspersen
Number of pages13
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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