What is civil society?

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Engineer, Ecole des Mines, Administrator, Transparency International France

Seminar Economy and meaning | Wednesday February 5, 2014 - 9h - 11h30

One talks about civil society in the same breath as appointments for non-elected members of the government and the revolutions arising from the Arab Spring. The many uses of this term dilute the specificity of political behaviour which is not new, but has been growing in importance over the past few decades, and ought to be defined precisely if it is to be studied. If one restricts the definition of civil society to that which tries to influence political or economic power from the outside and without violence, then this would also define the entire spectrum of associations and non-governmental organisations ranging from the defence committee for a natural park to Amnesty International or Greenpeace. The example of Transparency International, an organisation created twenty years ago to combat corruption, illustrates the changes and different courses of action of civil society today.

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