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What is civil society?

Published On: 2008-09-20
Star Books Review

Rahad Abir studies the history behind it

Civil society. The term has now been around for a few decades, largely since the 1980s. Some sociologists and political scientists coined the term here in Bangladesh. The thought of civil society mainly originated, however, in the eighteenth century in Western Europe. But why and wherefore civil society in Bangladesh? Now, let us try to find out what civil society actually is. The primary idea of civil society came from the writings of Hobbes (1588-1679) and Locke (1632-1704). They thought of civil society as an artificial construct. According to them, human beings' usual dwelling place is nature. They considered civil society as a sphere that maintained civil life, the realm where civic virtues and rights were derived from natural laws. However, they did not hold that civil society was a separate realm from the state. Rather, they underlined the co-existence between the state and civil society.The le…