Difference between State and Civil Society – Explained!

Whereas even a democratic state and its government can use its power in an authoritarian way, the Civil Society always works against every such attempt and is always prepared to oppose such laws and policies of even the democratic government which in any way try to limit rights, freedom and private affairs of the people.

In contemporary times, Civil Society always works for the preservation of individual liberty, and opposes unnecessary state interference in the social, economic and cultural life of the people.

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It also opposes all violations of human rights and positively tries to encourage the people to respect and enjoy their rights and liberty as well as to cooperate for securing their needs and interests.

“Civil Society consists of non-coercive structures which.-work for securing the interests and needs of the public and as well as for challenging every case of an authoritarian use of its coercive power by the government.”

As such, there is a clear distinction between the State and Civil Society.

However, it must also be clearly understood that we cannot rigidly draw the boundaries between the two. These cannot be fixed as these are bound to remain continuously changing and at places overlapping boundaries.

This is most evident from the fact that between 1945- 1990 what was deemed to be the realm of the state (socio-economic welfare and development) is now deemed to be an area of concern and action for the Civil Society.

Further, Civil Society cannot replace the State. It accepts the utility and role of the State in society. It simply opposes an over-powerful, over-active and authoritarian state.

Civil Society tries to check authoritarian activities of the government. It participates in the organization and working of democratic government and tries to strengthen the sphere of public and protective functions of the state.

State and Civil Society can and must work together. Each can supplement the other. State acting along with Civil Society can be highly productive of desired and useful results.

Concept of State and Civil Society are not in conflict with each other. Democracy integrates the two. The claims of the people get strengthened by the Civil Society and the Civil Society becomes more stable and strong in the democratic state. The two can and should always work in a democratic frame: “the democratic state within the framework of democratic civil society”. In a democratic system, state and civil society can collaborate for an effective functioning of each.