Religion and civil society

Authored by: David Herbert

Routledge Handbook of Religion and Politics

Print publication date:  January  2016
Online publication date:  January  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138826991
eBook ISBN: 9781315643922
Adobe ISBN:


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The term ‘civil society’ refers to the network of associations and organisations situated between, on the one hand, the state and political society (political associations and parties), and on the other, kinship and friendship networks. It thus includes an array of organisations, associations and networks, ranging from sports and youth clubs to charities, voluntary organisations and religious groups, newspapers and other independent media producers, social movements and single-issue lobby groups. In most understandings, civil society may be regulated but not controlled by the state, and market relations are generally excluded, though this is contested. 1 Some critics have argued that the state is so important in structuring civil society that it cannot be properly conceptualised as an autonomous sphere. 2 Civil society is generally conceived as an area of free association rather than obligation, where individuals choose to join together for a broad range of reasons.

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