The Civil society reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Civil society

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Civil society or civil institutions are the total of civic and social organizations or institutions that form the bedrock of a functioning democracy. Civil society groups advocate and take action primarily for social development and public interest.

While there are a myriad definitions of civil society, the London School of Economics Center for Civil Society working definition is illustrative:

Civil society refers to the set of institutions, organisations and behaviour situated between the state, the business world, and the family. Specifically, this includes voluntary and non-profit organisations of many different kinds, philanthropic institutions, social and political movements, other forms of social participation and engagement and the values and cultural patterns associated with them.

Examples of civil society institutions:

The term is currently often used by critics and activists as a reference to sources of resistance to and the domain of social life which needs to be protected against globalization. However, within the United Nations context, the phrase "civil society" has been a source of some controversy, as its meaning also includes businesses as well as private voluntary organisations - see United Nations: Partners in Civil Society

See also: NGO, NGOs in Consultative Status, social capital, civilisation, sociology, political science

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