Civil Society (Themes for the 21st Century Series)

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9780745631332: Civil Society (Themes for the 21st Century Series)

In this book which provides a comprehensive and accessible overview of one of the most important debates of our times, Michael Edwards asks whether 'civil society' is the big idea for the 21st century.


  • Asks whether 'civil society' is the big idea for the 21st century.
  • Provides a comprehensive and accessible overview of one of the most important debates of our times.
  • Explores theories of associational life, the good society and the public sphere, and clarifies their implications for policy and practice.
  • Draws inspiration and examples from history and contemporary experience, Islam and Christianity, South and North, and activists and academics.

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From the Back Cover:

Is civil society the big idea for the 21st century? Or will the idea of civil society – confused, conflated and co-opted by elites – prove another false horizon in the search for a better world? By illuminating the uses and abuses of different theories and traditions in clear and engaging prose, this book will help readers of all persuasions to answer this question for themselves.


Drawing inspiration and examples from history and contemporary experience, Islam and Christianity, South and North, and activists and academics, this book gives voice to a rich and diverse account of civil society in its many different guises. In moving systematically through theories of associational life, the good society and the public sphere, exploring the neglected connections that exist between them, and clarifying their implications for policy and practice, Michael Edwards provides a comprehensive, accessible and often humorous overview of one of the most important debates of our times.

This book will be essential reading for students of politics, public policy, development studies and international relations. It will also be read by all those interested in the role of civil society in the media, policy-making and NGO communities.

About the Author:

Michael Edwards is Director of the Ford Foundation’s Governance and Civil Society Program.

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Michael Edwards
Published by Polity (2004)
ISBN 10: 0745631339 ISBN 13: 9780745631332
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