In the past two decades, “civil society” has become a central organizing concept in the social sciences. Occupying the middle ground between the state and private life, the civil sphere encompasses everything from associations to protests to church groups to nongovernmental organizations. Interest in the topic exploded with the decline of statism in the 1980s and 1990s, and many of our current debates about politics and social policy are informed by the renewed focus on civil society. This book views the topic through three prisms: as a part of society (voluntary associations), as a kind of society (marked out by certain social norms), and as a space for citizen action and engagement (the public square or sphere).
The Oxford Handbook of Civil Society does not focus solely on the West (a failing of much of the literature to date), but looks at civil society in both the developed and developing worlds. Throughout, it merges theory, practice, and empirical research in new and creative ways. In sum, The Oxford Handbook on Civil Society aims to be a definitive work on the topic.
Submitted by Michael Edwards via NCDD’s Add-A-Resource form. Michael Edwards is the editor of the Oxford Handbook of Civil Society and a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos in New York. His website is www.futurepositive.org and his writings can be followed on twitter @edwarmi.