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The Global Civil Society

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For all of us, global civil society is a new term. However, the significance of it is rapidly growing. As a result of that, there are numerous researches about global civil society, as lots of researchers who believed that the global civil society was the way of peace and stability. The common idea is that global civil society is highly linked to the liberal understanding. It means that, although there are different ideas about when this term had been introduced first; the end of the Cold War was a significant turning point in the history of global civil society. The most empirical trend since the end of the Cold War is alleged to be the development of a global civil society, bringing with it new ways of doing politics or of establishing moral political communities. (Baker and Chandler,2005) Likewise, according to Keane (2003), ‘Global Civil Society’ occurred in 1980s and it was so popular during the 1990s. He argues that after the Prague Spring, especially in central-Eastern Europe was the homeland of these three new ideas: global, civil and society.

According to Kaldor (2003), on the other hand, the term ‘global civil society’ has only really come into use in the past ten years; although Kant had referred to the possibility of a universal civil society. Thus, it is possible to emphasize on the global civil society with different approaches such as philosophical, economic or social. If we look at the philosophical development of global civil society, we should mention Kaldor. Kaldor (2003) states that for early modern thinkers, civil society and the state had the same meaning. Civil society was a type of state, characterized by a social contract. Civil society was a society governed by laws, based on the principle of equality before the law, implying that everyone was subject to the law. After the nineteenth century, civil society became something distinct from the state. Hegel defined civil society as the intermediate area between the family and the state, where the individual becomes a public person and, through membership in various institutions, is able to reconcile the particular and the universal. Hegel’s definition of civil society included the economy and was to be taken up by Marx and Engels, who saw the civil society as the ‘theatre of history’. Later, the definition has been changed in the twentieth century. Civil society was understood as the realm not just between the state and the family but occupying the space outside the market, state and family. The Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci said that there was a proper relation between state and drew the distinction between hegemony, based on consent, and domination, based on coercion. Although there are lots of different definitions, there are several common points in each definition as well. They were about rule-governed society based on the consent of individuals, society based on a social contract among individuals. The meaning of civil society has changed during the historical events. For example, in the early modern period, the main concern was civil rights-freedom from fear. Hence civil society was a society where laws replace physical coercion, arbitrary arrest, etc. In the nineteenth century, whereas, the issues that were on the scene were more about the political rights, and the characteristics of the actors belonging in this type of civil society were mostly bourgeoisie people. In the7twentieth century, the civil society was shaped by the economic issues, formed itself around the workers and their emancipation movements.

(Glasius, Lewis and Seckinelgin, 2004) According to Salamon (2004), global civil society emerged from the crisis of the state. It was first developed in the Northern Europe and spread all over the world. The collapse of socialism after the Cold War helped this spread. After this questioning of state some other issues such as human rights and environmental problems had emerged. As there were increasing distrust about the capability of the state to deal with the issues such as welfare of the citizens, development and other environmental matters; and as the communication technology grew greatly, the bourgeoisie expanded with the frustration by political and economical expression shortage. Hence, eventually, ‘’a new element has surfaced more recently to increase further the attention that has been focused on nonprofit or civil society organizations.’’ (Osborne, 2002) Thus, if we may take the modern considerations of the global civil society, it can be summarized that it is a concept that emerged after the Cold War, and became even more popular in the 90s.

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