Civil society is commonly defined in liberal political theory as ‘an intermediate associational realm between state and family populated by organizations which are separate from the state, enjoy autonomy in relation to the state and are formed voluntarily by members of society to protect and extend their interests’ (White, 1994: 375). In this realm citizens act ‘collectively in a public sphere’ to express their interests, exchange information, achieve mutual goals and make demands on the state (Diamond, 1995). It is commonly conceptualized as the realm of the public, where collective pursuit of a variety of interests, whether recreational, social, cultural, economic or political, takes place. Profit-seeking organizations are usually excluded to differentiate this sphere from the market, although the media is sometimes included. Similarly, associations which seek to take power are usually excluded to differentiate civil society from political society. However, lobby groups or activist movements seeking to influence particular government policies are included.
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- Civil Society in Southeast Asia
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- Chapter 8