Civil Society and State: A Historical Review


  • Venugopal B Menon, Dr Christ University
  • Chinnu Jolly Jerome Christ University



State, Civil Society, Classical Thinkers, Contemporary Society, Intellectual Freedom


The article attempts to trace the evolution of the concept of civil society. Drawing from the work of political philosophers from the classical period, the period of renaissance, scientific revolution, the period of Enlightenment in the 18th century, and ideologies from the Marxist and Gramscian discourses, the article demonstrates the shifts in the meaning and implications of the concept, its relations to public spaces, accountability, governance, normative ideals of state and the relationship between the state and its citizens. The article concludes its historical progression with the New Social Movements (NSMs), wherein the civil society became synonymous with strategic action to construct 'an alternative social and world order’, a site for problem solving. Other contenders who put forth a renewed interest in the resurgence of civil society were the New Left, who assigned civil society a role to defend people’s democratic will in the face of state power, and the neoliberals who considered civil society as a site for subversion from authoritarian regimes. The article finally concludes with a call for urgent attention towards reclaiming the authority of the civil society in education scenario.

Author Biographies

Venugopal B Menon, Dr, Christ University

Christ University, Bengaluru, India

Chinnu Jolly Jerome, Christ University

Christ University, Bengaluru, India


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How to Cite

Menon, V. B., & Jerome, C. J. (2017). Civil Society and State: A Historical Review. Tattva Journal of Philosophy, 9(2), 33-42.