Debates on civil society: from centre-periphery to radical civil societarianism

Duruşan, Fırat
The radical democratic conception of civil society strives for theoretically constructing and politically defending civil society as a social sphere autonomous from both the economy and state. As a position taken against Marxist and liberal theories, radical civil societarianism views the cultural and normative structures of modern societies as independent from and prior to systemically conceived economic and political relations. These structures is purported to give way to spontaneous social solidarity characterising civil society. With the mechanisms of domination and exploitation defined outside civil society, this approach ends up with excessive voluntarism characterising social relations thereof. Similarly, in the Turkish context, the dominant centre-periphery approach is predicated upon the external contradiction between the vertical state-society relations and horizontal relations between social actors. It is argued that the dominance of the former has caused the underdevelopment of civil society which is a particular expression of the latter. In any case, social conflicts are detached from structural political and economic mechanisms and conceived in voluntaristic terms. Consequently, the normative position radical civil societarianism takes vis-à-vis social movements fails to go beyond an imposition of the arbitrary notion of “civility” through the discourse of self-limitation.


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Citation Formats
F. Duruşan, “Debates on civil society: from centre-periphery to radical civil societarianism,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2008.