On Civil Society: Issues and Perspectives

Although the concept of civil society is in wide circulation today, there is no consensus among scholars on its definition and attributes. Nevertheless, those who use it agree that it refers to an important reality: that civil society is fundamental to democratic governance. If in political science the civil society discourse was occasioned by a re-thinking on the nature of the state and the dynamics of democracy in India, in sociology the context for the discourse was provided by the plethora of social movements and the role of NGOs in socioeconomic development. In the 13 chapters in this book, well-known scholars elucidate in detail a variety of themes relating to civil society. They delineate the 'cultural' and 'power' perspectives on civil society, analyze the relationship between 'civil society' and 'good society, and examine the nature of civil society and its relation to specific institutions or processes, such as farmers' agitations; natural resource management; identity politics; fundamentalism; religion, caste and language; and civil society, the state, and democracy.