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Civil Society

Paperback / softback By Michael Edwards
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Product Description

Now in its fourth edition, Civil Society has become a major work of reference for those who seek to understand the role of voluntary citizen action in a troubled world.

Recent economic and political developments do not bode well for the theory and practice of civil society: communities are increasingly divided; inequality is on the rise; authoritarians and populists have gained a foothold even in advanced democracies; restrictions on freedom of speech and association are increasingly common and recent scandals have even reduced trust in charities. Worryingly, public spheres seem incapable of addressing these concerns. Yet, as Michael Edwards makes clear, ideas about the civil sphere can shed much light on what is happening, why, and how we might respond to polarization, privatization, and authoritarians of various stripes.

Fully updated to take account of recent work on digital culture, democracy, and philanthropy, Civil Society will be required reading for anyone who is interested in creating a better world through voluntary citizen action.

Product Details

Format: Paperback / softback, 200 pages Language: English
Dimension: 137 x 18 x 211mm ISBN10: 150953735X
Weight: 249g ISBN13: 9781509537358
Publication Date: 22 Nov 2019 Publisher: Polity Press

About Author

Michael Edwards is a writer and activist based in upstate New York, and the editor of Transformation at open


Product Reviews


"Michael Edwards' book may serve as a revitalizing factor for global citizens in taking initiatives on how to respond to some major illnesses of nowadays’ societies: authoritarianism, populism, lack of solidarity or distrust and fear from the other."Progress in Development Studies“All over the world, political systems are paralyzed by incompetence, polarization, and authoritarianism. Can voluntary organizations, engaged citizens, and intermediate associations rescue democratic participation and oversight? Michael Edwards’s book provides essential guidelines for understanding the revitalizing possibilities of civil society.”John Ehrenberg, Long Island University“This significantly updated edition provides an authoritative account of the contemporary complex relevance of civil society for the future of participatory democracy. Lucidly conceptualized and fluently written, this is required reading for twenty-first-century citizens of conscience.”Richard Falk, University of California, Santa Barbara, former United Nations Special Rapporteur“Edwards calls for more efforts to revitalise the emancipatory potential of civil society. […T]here is every reason to be sanguine about the need to have more civil society than to have less of it. This is a very necessary book.”Institutions and Economies“[A] key introduction to the concept of civil society and its different roles across countries […] relevant to a wide range of audiences, including advanced undergraduates becoming familiar with the idea of civil society, graduate students looking for a summary and assessment of key academic debates on the topic, and nonprofit leaders wanting to reflect on the overall roles played and challenges faced by their organizations and the sector.”Hans Peter Schmitz, Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership​“Civil Society remains a core reading in the field; the way it condenses the major landmarks of the literature makes it an essential in any syllabus aimed to introduce new scholars to the major theoretical developments in this area and to the challenges that the 'lived experience' of civil society imposes on said theory.” Lina Ochoa, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly"The author has not only captured the essential questions of our time (i.e., populism, polarization, privatization and bureaucratization) […] but has also confronted issues that will be only more central and relevant to the world society throughout the 21st century."Progress in Development Studies


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