I’m fascinated by the idea of civil society – the conviction that voluntary, collective action can build a better world. But it’s a complex idea that’s heavily contested and increasingly under threat. Here are some recent articles that investigate civil society’s promise, perils and potential:

Where is civil society when you need it?

While cultures of protest are strong, other parts of civil society are getting weaker, with calamitous results.

Let’s get real about the transformation of society: can you email me directions?

Following activists on twitter is easier than following them to jail, but why can’t we do both?

When is civil society a force for social transformation?

There are more civil society organizations in the world today than at any other time in history, so why isn’t their impact growing? 

What can the ‘Big Society’ learn from history?

Governments can do little to build civil society directly but much to strengthen the conditions in which civil society can build itself.

Love, reason and the future of civil society

Civil society is both the process and the outcome of lives lived in critical friendship.

Read the introduction and conclusion to the Oxford Handbook of Civil Society for free at these links:

Civil society and the geometry of human relations

Civil society as a necessary and necessarily contested idea

Read the preface to the fourth edition of Civil Society here for free.

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