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The Functions of a 'Civil Society'

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Politics
Wordcount: 2062 words Published: 24th Sep 2021

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The term of civil society has become very common around the world and the concept of civil society is increasingly commonplace. Not only politicians, but also the media and scientists who in recent years mean use more common concept. Being confronted with the term “civil society”, some people perhaps have a vague idea of its meaning. Even it’s used largely around the word this concept is still blurred and does not so clear, it is one of the terms that being used largely in the whole world as well as globalization, civilization clash and so on, that’s why it still need to what is the real meaning of it? And what is the institution that involve in the civil society? What is the role that can play in the political life in any country?

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The concept of civil society is not new at all. It originated in ancient Greek for more than 2000 years before our modern era. The famous philosopher Aristotle pointed to the name “Koinonia politik” “Citizen Society” and later, Latin: “Societas Civilis’. at that time men and only men whom was only consider as a citizens(except the women and slaves) try to take an action in the government of their polity better than assembling wealth and diverting themselves. , The term is occasionally used throughout European history, but it gains more prominence in the 18th century.

The idea of a civil society conceived as a sphere of action to differentiate the state is born during the Enlightenment (the 17th and 18th centuries) and acquired its modern character, due to authors such as John Locke and Charles Montesquieu. It dealt a society in which humans live together in community citizens who are entitled to speak. They should thus be free and independent, enjoy the right of association, cooperation and decide the most important issues in the debate. They must also be able to achieve coexistence characterized by tolerance and social equality, in full respect of law, but not too much pressure exerted by the state.

According to John Locke, it was the duty of the State to guarantee citizen equality before the law, freedom, integrity and property. If it does not comply with this principle, citizens had the right, under corporate citizen, to rebel.

Charles de Montesquieu attributed much less civic society role of the State Comptroller that intermediary between citizens and state. In his opinion there were two spheres to differentiate: policy on one hand, and the civil society, on the other.

Alexis de Tocqueville later considered the civil society as place of birth and year of civic virtues such as participation, for him it was the “School of Democracy and Freedom “. With this idea, the company (Civil) became increasingly a public political body, who watched and criticized the actions of the state.

The philosopher Georg Hegel too had his own interpretation of the concept of civil society. According to Hegel; the concept designated a separate area outside the sphere of natural family and the sphere the higher of the state. Citizens can as individuals, pursue their interests legitimate individuals (in the first place, their economic interests) resolve their disputes and to some extent regulate their affairs. The Civil society played the role in the structuring of its interests an intermediary between the individual and the state.

It was generally thought that in ancient societies, men were always fighting and harming each other due to the food, women, properties. It was thought that ‘savages’ had no forms of social organization, where interacting with the other was negatively and violence. Being part of a civil society on the other hand, meant that you interact with other human beings in more complex ways, and that you do not normally commit violence against other members of it.

What is civil society?

Civil Society is a phrase that became increasingly fashionable; all those who speak do not define the concept of same way, what precisely does not facilitate use or understanding of the concept of Civil Society. We must first shed light on the many definitions and concepts that can sometimes be contradictory.

Civil society can be defined through two fronts:

Civil society is regarded as an area within the company which is emerged between the spheres the state, economic and private, or between state, market and family. This area is considered a public space consists by a many groups more or less independent of the state, more or less organized, with different forms of organization such as initiative groups, the clubs or associations. It is important to understand that the civil society we are talking about still not a homogeneous group in any form that could be represented by a voice. Furthermore, it is not a mass of individual citizens, who represent their interests individually; people come together rather freely according to their interests or their personal and career goals, in clubs, associations or social movements, to trade and work together towards common goals.

The requirement for a civil society are organized, is guarantee of individual and collective freedoms to individuals (the right to assemble and the right associate, for example). This is the only opportunity to represent their interests. Space society where this happens is called civil society. Generally, civil society organizations are independent, Contrary to economic organizations; they do not pursue any objective of a profit. They act beyond individual and family private sphere and seek to attract the attention of society and create a social impact in public life. Such a society is born when decisions are entrusted in the hands of those directly involved. The objectives are always concern articulated the public affairs actors.

Civil society is still involved in politics, do not set functions state, they prefer to keep an independent position. Similarly, groups that pursue objectives exclusively private (families, businesses, etc…) do not belong to civil society, like political parties, parliaments or state governments.

On the other hand, civil society means development companies characterized by the term democratization. In the same context, the concept of society citizens is often used in the same direction. Often, the term civil society is Appeal policy requiring more democracy.

Based on the history of the concept and general definitions, we can summarize a first approach to what civil society really means:

Civil society:

  • is a public space in society
  • is between the state, market and family
  • is not a homogeneous group, NOT a mass of people isolated from each other
  • means gatherings of citizens according to their respective interests for reciprocity in trade and the pursuit of common goals.

The organizations of civil society:

  • are independent of the state and economic organizations
  • do not work for profit
  • trying to attract attention to their interests
  • work, by setting goals, serving the public affairs
  • do not pursue state functions, but are only interested in participation independent policy.

We can certainly understand much better by examining the various functions of the civil society

The functions of civil society

There are several different functions of civil society. We will address the most important functions. After carefully reading the history of the concept civil society, some of the functions described probably will seem familiar, because they were already known for theorists.

We can basic functions of civil society following:

1-Protective function

Civil society has a duty to provide freedom for citizens and protect them from arbitrary state.

It is included protection against state interference in the private sphere, and ensured the availability of a private space as well as socially. Organizations civil society involved, for example, to check draft policy regarding securing fundamental rights of citizens and in the case of an offense to attract attention and to take steps to react against this offense. The protection in particular minorities and their rights is also part of this function.

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2- The function of participation

this is socialization of democratic and participatory citizens. It can also be described as the requirement and excellence in political culture. This refers an increase in interest in politics, increased motivation and ability to participate in political events. Moreover, in this context, the company Preparedness is considered already as a Democracy School. The latter would, in parallel strengthening democracy and recruit targeted way for democratic elites in decision-making state. As an example for the function of participation, include the direct, representatives of civil sector in the formulation of bills and other regulations or decisions.

3- The control function

often, this function is also called “the security of freedom in the negative. It dependent on protective function. Since this is the observation and control political power. One of the fundamental obligations under the oversight function is, for example election monitoring to ensure the fair, in fundamental rules of democracy.

4- The function of relief

In several areas, civil society contributes to ease in the narrow sense, the state, the government and politics. On the one hand, there is an effective financial relief – by the fact that citizens voluntarily endorse and often without compensation, social obligations. Therefore, it is still a reduction in the direction of increased efficiency. Today, society is faced with complex new issues which called mega-problems, and that cannot be resolved at the state level only. These problems must be addressed on several levels. These include, for example, globalization or environmental problem that is growing more and more. Civil society meets social obligations go beyond the family, but at the same time are enough – taken into account by the forms of representation of interests of organizations established and that, neither the market nor the state cannot resolve properly. We may take as examples and mutual support groups which are becoming increasingly many. Members of these groups are often in a difficult situation; disoriented strongly depressed, hopeless, alone…etc. This type of group usually replaces deficient family structures or the state, which remains without resources to this type of personal problems.

5- The articulation function

Civil society can contribute to opening channels of effective production, assembly and articulation of community values and social interests, outside of political parties and parliaments. The private and social issues are now dealt with by civil society and conveyed with political opinion. Civil society acts as an intermediary between citizens and state. Citizen initiatives are an example of articulation function of society Preparedness. Citizens will often address problems in one area of experience direct and organize themselves to act directly without passing through parties or associations on that trail or unacceptable situations they consider dangerous. Initiatives Citizens are often formed, for example in the case of transport of nuclear waste.

6- The function of democratization.

This is the contribution of civil society in the process of formation of public opinion and popular will. Company Civil play an important role in democratization, especially at local level. In young democracies, this function is often dependent on the evolution of democracy at national level where citizen initiatives are also a concrete example. In this context, information sessions are often organized to inform the public about a particular topic. They thus contribute to the process of opinion formation and public enthusiasm. Other groups (local) which organize such a discussion session weekly or monthly, belonging to civil society, also produce an active work in the service this process of opinion formation and public enthusiasm.


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