Civil Society

Civil Society: Berlin Perspectives

Edited by John Keane
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 276
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  • Book Info
    Civil Society
    Book Description:

    At the moment, no other European city attracts so much fascination as the city of Berlin. An unrivalled symbol of modern urban life, Berlin is a dynamic city whose inhabitants, in the course of the past two centuries, have lived through both the rapid growth and the violent destruction of the institutions of civil society, several times over. This volume situates itself within these developments by presenting, for the first time in English, a sample of the best, recently written essays on contemporary civil societies, their structural problems, and their uncertain future, written by scholars with a close, long-standing relationship with the city. They are pre-occupied with a broad sweep of substantive themes, but in each case they focus upon one or other of the key trends that are shaping actually existing civil societies.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-698-4
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Editors’ Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
    Dieter Gosewinkel and Jürgen Kocka
  4. Introduction: Cities and Civil Society
    (pp. 1-36)
    John Keane

    Among the sadly neglected themes within recent research on civil societies is their intimate connection with urban life. Its absence from the literature on civil society is odd, if only because classical and early modern images of civil society (societas civilis) are tightly dependent in a linguistic sense upon a family of terms associated with cities. Such old-fashioned words ascivitas(the inhabitant of a city),civis(a citizen of a town, as incivis Romanus),civilis(befitting a citizen, or becoming a citizen) andcivilitas(politeness or civility) today live a vibrant life within all European languages of civil...

  5. 1 Civil Society in Historical Perspective
    (pp. 37-50)
    Jürgen Kocka

    Scholarly terms, like journalistic terms, run their course. They emerge, spread sometimes like epidemics and are on everyone’s lips before being pushed back to the margins and becoming outdated. In their heyday the terms fulfil many functions. In the sciences they are used to describe and analyse. In public discussion, like banners, they identify affiliations and their followers gather behind them and march into battle. The scholarly and journalistic functions of a term sometimes obstruct one another.

    ‘Civil society’, which has gained great popularity in the last fifteen years and is still used frequently, is one such term. What we...

  6. 2 Corporate Responsibility and Historical Injustice
    (pp. 51-70)
    Susanne-Sophia Spiliotis

    The central question of this chapter concerns the relationship between civil society and multinational corporations and how this relationship is normatively and practically reconstituted at a time when past, large-scale, human rights violations are assuming increasing topical significance. This question is pivotal in clarifying a role for business as an actor in civil society that goes beyond what is generally discussed under the headings of corporate social responsibility, corporate governance, corporate citizenship or just philanthropy. The way corporate actors look at history tells one more about their ‘civicness’ than do these forms of civic involvement. This is why we need...

  7. 3 The Faces of Social Inequality
    (pp. 71-90)
    Paul Nolte

    Civil society is often understood today as a normatively or empirically defined nucleus of the social order, distinct from other institutionalized established social complexes, above all the state, the market economy and the private sphere. The term ‘civil society’ draws its legitimacy essentially from these distinctions, since it defends certain standards of behaviour and social coexistence that are subjected to a constant and structural external threat through the operational mechanisms of those other sectors.

    Justified as this perspective may be, it is problematic for two reasons. First, the state and the market not only threaten civil society; they also promote...

  8. 4 Civil Society: Desperate Wishful Thinking?
    (pp. 91-102)
    Herfried Münkler

    From the standpoint of political science, one thing is certain: there is rarely so much abuse of a term as when it gets into the hands of politicians or, to be more precise, when it has become an integral part of political language. The sense and meaning of the term is then twisted to fit the need at hand; it is instrumentalized polemically; or else, once the term has become established and is generally accepted, it is expanded and stretched so much that it can cover all manner of things. In short, scholars are not happy when key research terms...

  9. 5 Transformations of German Civil Society: Milieu Change and Community Spirit
    (pp. 103-138)
    Hans Joas and Frank Adloff

    ‘Public interest’ (Gemeinwohl) and ‘community spirit’ (Gemeinsinn) are only two of the many concepts that regularly crop up in current discussions on social cohesion and the political capacity for action. Civil society and citizens’ society (Bürgergesellschaft), communitarianism and revived republicanism, ‘social capital’ and ‘trust’, ‘Third Way’ and the ‘modernization of government’ – these all belong to the same semantic field. Each of these concepts naturally has its own history, its advantages and disadvantages; some meet with incomprehension in certain circles, or arouse aversion to and suspicion of the motives of the people who use them. Essentially, however, the many coexisting...

  10. 6 Civility, Violence and Civil Society
    (pp. 139-168)
    Sven Reichardt

    The modern notion of ‘civil society’ originates with the thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment, for whom the term was closely connected with the expressions ‘civil’ and ‘civilizing’, on the one hand, and with free, independent and self-reliant individuals, on the other. During the second half of the eighteenth century and at the beginning of the nineteenth century, the concept ‘civil society’ expressed an attitude critical of the state; it often had an anti-absolutist thrust. It was closely connected with the realm of freedom and expressed the self-confidence of a well-educated and relatively small elite.

    During the nineteenth century the circle...

  11. 7 Is There, or Can There Be, a ‘European Society’?
    (pp. 169-188)
    Claus Offe

    Curiously enough, it is not easy to find social scientists who seem to know – and are ready to explain – what a ‘society’ is. Yet it seems possible to put together a number of constituent notions that most authors, more or less implicitly, refer to when using the term. Among those notions, I submit, are the following.

    (1) A society consists of individual actors, the number of which is relatively large (relative to members of families, business firms or localities), yet relatively small compared to the global human population, or ‘mankind’.

    (2) These actors are related to each other...

  12. 8 Social Movements Challenging Neoliberal Globalization
    (pp. 189-212)
    Dieter Rucht

    According to the American sociologist Douglas Kellner, globalization is ‘thebuzzword of our times’ (Kellner 1998: 23). The British sociologist Anthony Giddens echoes this statement: ‘Every business guru talks about [globalization]. No political speech is complete without reference to it. Yet as little as 10 years ago the term was hardly used, either in the academic literature or in everyday language. It has come from nowhere to be almost everywhere’ (Giddens 1999).

    The term ‘globalization’ has indeed spread at a breathtaking pace since the late 1980s (Gerhards and Rössel 1999).¹ In the beginning, it had largely positive associations. More recently,...

  13. 9 Entangled Histories: Civil Society, Caste Solidarities and Legal Pluralism in Post-colonial India
    (pp. 213-242)
    Shalini Randeria

    Cartographies of social ties seem to have changed so rapidly that it is difficult today to read the old and new maps of social connectedness together. In the heyday of modernization theory just thirty years ago, solidarities of caste, community and religion were considered to be undesirable relics of the passing of ‘traditional’ societies destined for the dustbin of history. There were no communitarians then who would have shared the prevailing Indian ‘backward’ belief that individual identities were shaped by communities whose ways of life must be preserved and protected. Theorists of social capital had yet to discover that dense...

  14. 10 The Temptations of Unfreedom: Erasmus Intellectuals in the Age of Totalitarianism
    (pp. 243-250)
    Ralf Dahrendorf

    For a long while now, I have been concerned with the question why so many intellectuals in the two decades following the First World War succumbed to the great temptations of communism or fascism. This is, in the first place, a historical question but one that has lost none of its relevance, even if it is not quite clear in what form the new temptations of the twenty-first century will beguile intellectuals.

    That communism was a temptation has long been clear. For good reason the thoughtful British intellectual and Labour MP Richard Crossmann gave his 1949 collection of the memoirs...

  15. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 251-254)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 255-262)