International Encyclopedia of Civil Society

Living Edition
| Editors: Regina A. List, Helmut K. Anheier, Stefan Toepler

Civil Society and the European Union

Living reference work entry


Despite broad academic interest, the concept of civil society in the context of the EU has remained highly ambiguous. Finke’s observation (2007, p. 20) that two scholars who refer to civil society and the EU do not necessarily mean the same thing is still valid today. The discipline (as well as the philosophical/methodological presuppositions) within which researchers are positioned guide their approach to civil society. Comparative political scientists, IR scholars, political sociologists, and normative political theorists examine civil society from different perspectives. Furthermore, scholars are attached to their own research agenda. Consequently, those who are primarily interested in the constitutionalization of the EU (Fossum and Trenz 2006) will take a different stance than those who take issue with the relocation of social activism. Trenz (2009) has defined European civil society as a discursive formation within the public sphere, whereas Della Porta and Caiani (2009...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mannheimer Zentrum für Europäische Sozialforschung (MZES)Universität MannheimMannheimGermany
  2. 2.Centre for European and Comparative Legal StudiesCopenhagenDenmark

Section editors and affiliations

  • Regina A. List
    • 1
  1. 1.HamburgGermany