‘Civil Society’: Critique and Alternative

  • Lawrence Hamilton
Part of the International Political Economy Series book series (IPES)


Globalization is perceived as representing a threat to democracy. 1 Thus it raises concerns with how to enhance citizens’ rights and deepen democracy. ‘Civil society’ is used as a means of developing an understanding of how to do this: the most common assumption or argument underpinning the many contemporary conceptions of ‘civil society’ is that the concept and creation of ‘civil society’ creates deeper forms of democracy and citizen power. However, as I will argue in this chapter, contemporary conceptions of ‘civil society’ are based on idealistic notions of states, markets, freedom, rights, and citizen power and, therefore, hinder rather than facilitate the attainment of deeper forms of democracy. And, inasmuch as it depends on these conceptions, this is particularly true of the notion of cosmopolitan democratic citizenship within a global ‘civil society’.


Civil Society Discourse Ethic Civil Disobedience Political Society Global Civil Society 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2003

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  • Lawrence Hamilton

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