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Title: A critique of the normative assumptions of civil society and an evaluation of its relationship to democracy
Author: Warrington, J. J.
Awarding Body: University of Wales Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 2004
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This thesis offers a critique of the normative assumptions of the concept of civil society and an evaluation of its relationship in contemporary political discourse. The proposition is that civil society represents the only feasible aspect of society that can maintain any democratic expansion. But I will argue that civil society must first of all detach itself from liberal theory. To this end, a number of reconstructions to the ‘assumed norms’ of what constitutes democracy will be made, Democracy is in crisis, but the legitimacy of political systems remains. The purpose of the reconstructions in this thesis is to assess the factors that contribute to democratic development and those that mitigate against it. The method employed is an immanent critique of the normative bases of civil society - privacy, publicity, plurality and legality - and their reconsideration. Two sets of criteria must be met in these reconstructions: those required by democracy (as an empowerment in society), and those that maintain the connections between theory and the actual. Each of these norms contains a number of principles and assumptions, axiomatic in liberal theory but problematic for civil society, and so for democracy. When subjected to critical enquiry, some of these references to political and social freedoms are antithetical to the conditions of democratic development. The conclusions arrived at point to the reconstruction of the concept of privacy, and how this relates to what is understood to be ‘private’ is basic to democracy. The factors that contribute toward this legitimacy (privatism) impedes civil society, and consequently the development of democracy.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available