International Encyclopedia of Civil Society

2010 Edition
| Editors: Helmut K. Anheier, Stefan Toepler

Civil Society and Social Capital in the European Tradition

  • Thomas P. Boje
Reference work entry


Civil society-based institutions have had a significant historical impact in Europe both on the formation of modern notions of the nation and on the creation of national identity, as well as on the definition of citizenship rights and understandings of a democratic culture. If support for citizenship rights through civic institutions – at the workplace and in public institutions – is weakly articulated, it creates a fragile democratic culture and – consequently – less comprehensive social protection. The possibility of civil society becoming a locus for democratic learning, political reflexivity and governance depends, firstly, on its specific institutional mechanisms, and, secondly, on the broader institutional configuration, which civil society forms part of.

The definition of civil society used in this context is broad and comprehensive. Organized civil society includes public interest organizations, social movement organizations, churches, NGOs, and promotional...

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References/Further Readings

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas P. Boje
    • 1
  1. 1.Roskilde UniversityUniversitetsvej 1, 25.3, 4000RoskildeDenmark