The Limits of Semi-Civil Society

  • Baogang He


The development of civil society is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for democratic politics. Although emergent civil society provides us with an opportunity to proceed towards democratization, it will not necessarily lead to democracy. What is at stake is the nature or salient features of civil society. If the characteristics of civil society are extreme inequality, internal conflicts and a tendency toward violence, these will hinder the development of democracy. We therefore need thoughtful wishing (Lowenthal, 1986) rather than wishful thinking, which should give way to a rational recognition of the problems associated with the autonomy of semi-civil society, the ambiguous roles of intellectuals and entrepreneurs, and the problems associated with civility and compromise in the process of Chinese democratization. In addition, the complexity of the democratic implications of civil society should be acknowledged.


Civil Society Ambiguous Role Private Business Democratic Progressive Party Autonomous Organization 
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Copyright information

© Baogang He 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Baogang He
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of TasmaniaHobartAustralia

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