The purpose of the chapter is to point to the complex heritage of the concept “civil society”—a heritage that still determines the ways in which we envision present and future roles, possibilities, and impossibilities of civil society. The chapter grasps “civil society” as a political, legal, economic, and cultural conceptual battlefield. On this basis, the goal is to trace some of the most crucial conceptual tensions through which “civil society” has been historically manifested, as well as the institutional dilemmas that they imply. More specifically, the chapter engages with two significant conceptual tensions: “premodern-modern” and “public-private”—the former capturing the civilizational logic at play throughout modern discourses and practices, and the latter the dominating logic of institutionalization. It is argued that dilemmas inherent in these logics are haunting us still today. Furthermore, they are related to the ambiguous survival of natural law throughout modernity: On the one hand, modern civil society emerges on the basis of a break from natural law, and on the other, natural law survives to this day, in various disguises. This chapter offers a discussion of consequences of the dilemma-haunted ideals through which we approach “civil society” today, and of possibilities of reconfigurations in the future.
|Title of host publication
|Civil Society : Between Concepts and Empirical Grounds
|Liv Egholm, Lars Bo Kaspersen
|Number of pages
|Place of Publication
|Published - 2021
|Routledge Advances In Sociology
Published November 30, 2020.