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The Civil Society Reader

Virginia A. Hodgkinson and Michael W. Foley, editors

Publication Year: 2003

A “civil society” anthology for experts and students alike. Virginia Hodgkinson and Michael Foley have assembled a definitive collection of 24 readings from the writings of thinkers who have shaped the civil society tradition in Western political thought through the ages. Their clear, intelligent introduction establishes a framework for understanding the complex and perennial debate over conditions of citizenship and the character of the good society. The text moves from the origins of the debate, a consideration of Aristotle’s vision of political order, the polis, through the “civic republicanism” of Machiavelli and his English and American followers. It also discusses Hobbes’s and Montesquieu’s conceptions of natural law and the social contract, Immanuel Kant and Adam Ferguson and the emergence of the modern notion of civil society in the late 18th century, and the thoughts and theories of Hegel, Marx, and Gramsci. Contemporary discussion of civil society in the US started with Berger, Newhaus, and others who addressed the role of intermediary institutions and the political process. In the 1980s, especially as the Cold War ended, writing on civil society exploded. The anthology tracks the key works that have influenced public dialogue in this era. Chapters by Walzer, Barber, Putnam, Almond and Verba, Shils, and others describe the role of association in civil society and its role in democratic governance. As the concept of “civil society” grows ever more prominent in academic and public considerations of politics and political organization, citizen participation, political alienation, voluntary organizations, privatization, government deregulation, and “faith-based” charities, Civil Society: A Reader is the essential historical and theoretical text.

Published by: Tufts University Press

Series: Civil Society: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-xxiv

The notion of civil society is more than just the vague but often powerful slogan of the last several years. The term has a distinguished pedigree in Western efforts to grapple with fundamental problems in the shape and direction of modern societies. Yet thinkers over the last...

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1. : from The Politics

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pp. 1-18

Every state is a community of some kind, and every community is established with a view to some good; for everyone always acts in order to obtain that which they think good. But, if all communities aim at some good, the state or political community...

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2. from "Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose"

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pp. 19-27

The means which nature employs to bring about the development of innate capacities is that of antagonism within society, in so far as this antagonism becomes in the long run the cause of a law-governed social order. By antagonism, I mean in this context the unsocial sociability of men, that is, their tendency to come together...

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3. from "Perpetual Peace"

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pp. 28-39

A state of peace among men living together is not the same as the state of nature, which is rather a state of war. For even if it does not involve active hostilities, it involves a constant threat of their breaking out. Thus the state of peace must be formally instituted, for a suspension...

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4. from An Essay on the History of Civil Society

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pp. 40-62

It is evident, that, however urged by a sense of necessity, and a desire of convenience, or favored by any advantages of situation and policy, a people can make no great progress in cultivating the arts of life, until they have separated, and committed to different...

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5. from Rights of Man

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pp. 63-69

Great part of that order which reigns among mankind is not the effect of government. It has its origin in the principles of society and the natural constitution of man. It existed prior to government, and would exist if the formality of government was abolished...

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6. The Federalist, No. 10

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pp. 70-75

Among the numerous advantages promised by a well constructed Union, none deserve to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction. The friend of popular governments never finds himself so much alarmed...

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7. from Philosophy of Right

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pp. 76-95

The concrete person, who is himself the object of his particular aims, is, as a totality of wants and a mixture of caprice and physical necessity, one principle of civil society. But the particular person is essentially so related to other particular persons that each establishes...

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8. from "On the Jewish Question"

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pp. 96-112

The German Jews seek emancipation. What kind of emancipation do they want? Civic, political emancipation. Bruno Bauer replies to them: In Germany no one is politically emancipated. We ourselves are not...

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9. from Democracy in America

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pp. 113-132

Better use has been made of association and this powerful instrument of action has been applied to more varied aims in America than anywhere else in the world. Apart from permanent associations such as townships, cities, and counties created by...

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10. from The Public and Its Problems

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pp. 133-153

Optimism about democracy is today under a cloud. We are familiar with denunciation and criticism which, however, often reveal their emotional source in their peevish and undiscriminating tone. Many of them suffer from the same error into which earlier laudations...

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11. from The Governmental Process

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pp. 154-172

Most accounts of American legislative sessions—national, state, or local—are full of references to the maneuverings and iniquities of various organized groups. Newspaper stories report that a legislative proposal is being promoted by groups of business men...

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12. from The Civic Culture

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pp. 173-189

A civic culture, we have argued, rests upon a set of nonpolitical attitudes and nonpolitical affiliations. Many of these attitudes that we have discussed—general attitudes toward other people, sense of social trust—have little explicit political content, and many of the affiliations...

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13. from Selections from the Prison Notebooks

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pp. 190-202

The relationship between the intellectuals and the world of production is not as direct as it is with the fundamental social groups but is, in varying degrees, “mediated” by the whole fabric of society and by the complex of superstructures, of which the intellectuals...

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14. "A New Evolutionism 1976"

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pp. 203-212

The historic events that we call the Polish October [1956] were a source of hope that the communist system could evolve. This hope was grounded in two visions, two concepts of evolution. I will label them “revisionist” and “neopositivist.” The revisionist concept...

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15. from To Empower People

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pp. 213-233

Two seemingly contradictory tendencies are evident in current thinking about public policy in America. First, there is a continuing desire for the services provided by the modern welfare state. Partisan rhetoric aside, few people seriously envisage dismantling...

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16. from Strong Democracy: Participatory Politics for a New Age

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pp. 234-254

If government is but the greatest of all reflections on human nature and if, in Rousseau’s inversion of Madison’s claim, a people can be “no other than the nature of its government,” then there is no better way to elucidate the difference between strong democracy...

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17. from Free Spaces: The Sources of Democratic Change in America

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pp. 255-269

In 1849, one of Herman Melville’s characters in his novel Mardi presented to the people of Vivenza—the United States—a document that reminded them “freedom is more social than political,” meant to suggest that democracy depended upon the virtue and intelligence...

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18. from Civil Society and Political Theory

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pp. 270-291

We are on the threshold of yet another great transformation of the self-understanding of modern societies. There have been many attempts from various points of view to label this process: the ambiguous terms “postindustrial” and “postmodern” society reflect...

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19. "The Virtue of Civil Society"

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pp. 292-305

Since Montesquieu, writers on politics have been aware that there might be an association of particular moral qualities and beliefs with particular political regimes. The association between virtue and republican governments, although duly recorded by students...

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20. "A Better Vision: The Idea of Civil Society"

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pp. 306-321

My aim in this essay is to defend a complex, imprecise, and, at crucial points, uncertain account of society and politics. I have no hope of theoretical simplicity, not at this historical moment when so many stable oppositions of political and intellectual life have collapsed...

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21. from Making Democracy Work

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pp. 322-327

In sixteenth-century Florence, reflecting on the unstable history of republican institutions in ancient times as well as in Renaissance Italy, Nicolò Machiavelli and several of his contemporaries concluded that whether free institutions succeeded or failed depended on the character...

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22. from Habits of the Heart

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pp. 328-347

“How ought we to live? . . . Who are we, as Americans?” Since we wrote those questions at the beginning of Habits of the Heart, over a decade ago, they have taken on a critical urgency. Their meaning has been contested since the beginning of the republic...


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pp. 349-350


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pp. 351-362

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781584658313
E-ISBN-10: 1584658312
Print-ISBN-13: 9781584652786
Print-ISBN-10: 1584652780

Page Count: 384
Publication Year: 2003

Series Title: Civil Society: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives