The in civil society, as the trend towards democracy

The concept of civil society is an ancient-long
phenomenon. According to Cerothers (1999), the
concept goes back many centuries in Western thinking with its roots in Ancient
Greece. The modern idea of civil society emerged in the 18th
Century, influenced by political theorists from Thomas Paine to George Hegel,
who developed the notion of civil society as a domain parallel to but separate
from the state. Additionally, the 90s brought about renewed interest in civil
society, as the trend towards democracy opened up space for civil society and
the need to cover increasing gaps in social services created by structural
adjustment and other reforms in developing countries (Cerothers, 1999).

 

According to World Bank (2012), civil society
encompasses the wide array of non-governmental not-for-profit organizations
that have a presence in public life, expressing the interests and values of
their members or others based on ethical, cultural, political, scientific,
religious, or philanthropy considerations. Similarly, Boadi (2006) identifies
civil society as the realm between the household or family and the state,
populated by voluntary groups and associations formed on the basis of shared
interests, and are separate and/or largely but not necessarily completely
autonomous from the state. However, despite the
term civil society being a victim of definitional pluralism, most definitions
concur on some common characteristics of the notion. Ghaus-Pasha (2004)
identifies key features of successful civil societies as including, among
others, separation from the state and the market; formed by people who have
common needs, interests and values like tolerance, inclusion, cooperation and
equality; and, development-oriented through a fundamentally endogenous and
autonomous process which cannot easily be controlled from outside.

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For Ghaus-Pasha
(2004),
civil society should not be equated to NGOs as NGOs are only but a part of
civil society although they play an important and sometimes leading role in
activating citizen participation in socio-economic development and politics and
in shaping or influencing policy. It is a broader concept, encompassing all
organizations and associations that exist outside the state and the market. Examples
of civil society organizations range from local and international non-governmental
organisations; labour unions, religious groups; conflict resolution
institutions; cultural and
educational associations; youths and women associations; and, political
interest groups; to special
interest groups; voluntary associations; pressure
groups; policy networks; professional
associations; and business associations.