Civil Society

  • Patrick Chabal


The notion of civil society, like that of the state, is not new to political theory.2 It is now being introduced into the political analysis of Africa largely because the (over)emphasis on the role of the state has led to a definition of the political sphere as being virtually coterminous with the politics of the state. As the interpretative capacity of state-centred conceptual frameworks has decreased over time, it has become quite evident that political scientists have been led astray by the mirage of high politics: constitutions, parties, governments, parliaments, ideology, etc.


Civil Society African State Colonial Rule African Society Colonial State 
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  1. 1.
    In this chapter I am inspired by Bayart’s work: Bayart, 1979 and 1989; ‘La politique par le bas en Afrique noire’, Politique africaine, 1 (1981); ‘La revanche des sociétés africaines’, Politique africaine, 11 (1983); ‘Les sociétés africaines face à l’État’, Pouvoirs, 25 (1983); ‘La société politique camerounaise (1982–1986)’, Politique africaine, 22 (1986); ‘L’hypothése totalitaire dans le Tiers Monde’, in G. Hermet (ed.), Totalitarismes (Paris: Economica, 1984)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    On civil society: P. Clastres, La société contre l’État (Paris: Editions de Minuit, 1974)Google Scholar
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    There is some similarity here with the situation in Eastern Europe before 1990: on how Solidarity became the voice of civil society, see Lech Walesa, Un chemin d’espoir (Paris: Fayard, 1987).Google Scholar
  9. 20.
    On students’ political role: W. Hanna, University Students and African Politics (New York: Africans, 1975)Google Scholar
  10. 24.
    I. Kopytoff (ed.), The African Frontier (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987).Google Scholar
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    Mau-Mau is a clear example: R. Buijtenhuijs, Le mouvement ‘Mau-Mau’: une révolte paysanne et anticoloniale en Afrique noire (The Hague: Mouton, 1971)Google Scholar
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  16. 28.
    See here Cabral’s comments in ‘Resistência Cultural’, in Analise de Alguns Tipos de Resistência (Lisbon: Seara Nova, 1974).Google Scholar
  17. 30.
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    See J. Lonsdale (ed.), South Africa in Question (London: Currey, 1988).Google Scholar
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    See M. Watts, Silent Violence (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983).Google Scholar
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    Iliffe, 1987; Polly Hill, Dry Grain Farming Families (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Patrick Chabal 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick Chabal
    • 1
  1. 1.King’s College LondonUK

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