The contemporary meaning of the term civil society is contested. It is sometimes considered to include the family and the private sphere, and referred to as the "third sector" of society, distinct from government and business. Dictionary.com's 21st Century Lexicon defines civil society as 1) the aggregate of non-governmental organizations and institutions that manifest interests and will of citizens or 2) individuals and organizations in a society which are independent of the government. Sometimes the term is used in the more general sense of "the elements such as freedom of speech, an independent judiciary, etc, that make up a democratic society" (Collins English Dictionary).
John A. Hall lists 5 distinct enemies of civil society:
- Despotism: this is this idea of fear which discourages any type of group that's formed between society and government.
- Revival of the tradition of republican civic virtues: these are qualities that hold a moral value or moral principle and amount to dispositions to obey.
- Specific forms of nationalism: this would be where the rule of majority wins, and assimilation is used in order to form an ideal society.
- Totalizing ideologies
- Essentialist cultural ideals: these would be social cages of individuals that determine the function and value of that person in society.
- citizens' militia
- civic groups
- clubs (sports, social, etc.)
- community foundations
- consumers/consumer organizations
- intermediary organizations for the voluntary and non-profit sector
- men's groups
- អង្គការក្រៅរដ្ឋាភិបាល (NGOs)
- non-profit organizations (NPOs)
- policy institutions
- private voluntary organizations (PVOs)
- support groups
- trade unions
- voluntary associations
- women's groups
- Civic association
- Civic virtue
- Civil affairs
- Civil liberties
- Civil religion
- Civil societarianism
- Civil and political rights
- Constitutional economics
- Cultural hegemony
- Foucault–Habermas debate
- Global civics
- Global governance
- Liberal nationalism
- Mass society
- Non-state actor
- Open society
- Political science
- Public interest litigation
- Rule of law
- Rule According to Higher Law
- Social capital
- Social economy
- Social entrepreneurship
- Social innovation
- Voluntary sector
- Yearbook of International Organizations
- Jeffrey C. Alexander
- Helmut Anheier
- Andrew Arato
- Phillip Blond
- Benjamin Barber
- Daniel Bell
- Robert N. Bellah
- Walden Bello
- Jean L. Cohen
- Michael Edwards
- Jean Bethke Elshtain
- Amitai Etzioni
- Francis Fukuyama
- Ernest Gellner
- Susan George (political scientist)
- Jürgen Habermas
- Peter Dobkin Hall
- Mary Kaldor
- Barry Dean Karl
- John Keane
- David Korten
- John W. Meyer
- Frank Moulaert
- Michael Oakeshott
- Michael O'Neill
- Elinor Ostrom
- Robert D. Putnam
- Michael Sandel
- Charles Taylor
- Lori Wallach
- What is Civil Society civilsoc.org
- Civil society Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 11th Edition. Retrieved 2nd August 2012 from CollinsDictionary.com website: http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/civil-society
- Hall, J. (1995). Civil society: Theory, history, comparison . Polity
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- Alagappa, Muthiah. Civil Society and Political Change in Asia. Stanford: Standford University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-8047-5097-1
- Edwards, Michael. Civil Society. Cambridge, England: Polity Press, 2004. ISBN 0-7456-3133-9.
- Draper, Hal Karl Marx's Theory of Revolution (Volume 1: State and Bureaucracy, Volume 2: The Politics of Social Classes). New York: Monthly Review Press, 1977 & 1986.
- Gosewinkel, Dieter: Civil Society, European History Online, Mainz: Institute of European History, 2011, retrieved: August 24, 2011.
- Hemmati, Minu. Dodds, Felix. Enayati, Jasmin. and McHarry,Jan downloadable copy of Multistakeholder Processes for Governance and Sustainability:Beyond Deadlock and Conflict
- O'Connell,Brian.Civil Society: The Underpinnings of American Democracy.Medford, Mass:Tufts University Press, 1999. ISBN 0-87451-924-1.
- Perlas, Nicolas, Shaping Globalization – Civil Society, Cultural Power and Threefolding. ISBN 0-9583885-8-X .
- Pollock, Graham.Civil Society Theory and Euro-Nationalism, Studies In Social & Political Thought, Issue 4, March 2001, pp. 31–56
- Tvedt, Terje. Angels of Mercy or Development Diplomats. NGOs & Foreign Aid. Oxford: James Currey, 1998.
- Whaites, Alan, Let's get civil society straight: NGOs and Political Theory, Development in Practice, 1996, [តំណភ្ជាប់ខូច]
- Whaites, Alan, NGOs, Civil Society and the State: Avoiding theoretical extremes in real world issues,' Development in Practice 1998 [តំណភ្ជាប់ខូច]
- Zaleski, Pawel Stefan, Tocqueville on Civilian Society: A Romantic Vision of the Dichotomic Structure of Social Reality, Archiv für Begriffsgeschichte Bd. 50/2008
- LSE Centre for Civil Society
- UN and Civil Society
- UNEP Global Civil Society Forum.
- EU relations with Civil Society
- UK DFID relations with Civil Society
- Civicus – Worldwide Alliance for Citizen Participation
- Global civil society (PCDF).
- One World Trust Database of Civil Society Self-regulatory Initiatives
- Wiser.org – World Index for Social and Environmental Responsibility – formerly www.civilsociety.org.
- Stakeholder Forum for a Sustainable Future engagement in UN stakeholder relations
- International Society for Third-Sector Research
- Requier-Desjardins Mélanie & Bied-Charreton Marc, 2007. Science and civil society in the fight against desertification. Les dossiers thématiques du CSFD. Issue 6. 40 pp.
- 100 years of trends in international civil society by the Union of International Associations
- Interface journal special issue on civil society and social movements