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Civil Society: Adventures of the Concept before and after 1989

RADIM MARADA
Czech Sociological Review
Vol. 5, No. 1 (SPRING 1997), pp. 3-22
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41133023
Page Count: 20
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Civil Society: Adventures of the Concept before and after 1989
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Abstract

Respecting the perspective that 'civil society' has recently been revived not by academics as a purely theoretical concept but rather by social and political actors as a practical political idea, the article seeks to follow the metamorphoses that the idea's content and meaning have undergone in changing historical circumstances over the past two decades, especially as reflected in the Czech (and Slovak) discussion. In a historical sequence, it identifies three different political and social contexts that have endowed the idea with specific contents and meanings, and it distinguishes these as three major stages of the metamorphoses. It labels the stages as 'moral defence before the state' (before 1989), 'mobilising the polity' (1989-1991), and 'balancing the state's institutional arrangement' (since 1994). As it is the last meaning that is contested today in the Czech discussion, some typical problematic points of this case are raised. Finally, a way is suggested in which critical social theory could reflect upon some deficits of the notion of civil society as employed today, so that the latter can still be retained as a normative idea.

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