A Struggle for Rights and Freedoms: The Importance of Civil Society Space

What is Civil Society and why does it matter? The concept of ‘civil society’ is flexible and contested, with different interpretations linked to both liberal and radical traditions. In broad terms, it refers to the space between the state and the individual. Liberal traditions tend to focus on the building of ‘social capital’ via the provision of basic services,along with a ‘watchdog’ role in the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms. By contrast, radical perspectives see civil society as a realm of struggle related to power and shaped by inequalities, in which actors seek to transform the state for the benefit of all and “correct the imbalances” inherent in capitalism.

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