Practices, Concepts and the Common Good – Denmark 1900-2016
Since the beginning of the 1990’s, civil society has attracted both scholarly and political interest as the ‘third sphere’ outside the state and the market not only a normatively privileged site of communication and ‘the public sphere’, but also as a resource for democratization processes and social cohesion, as well as a provider of welfare services from a welfare state in dire straits. However, such a view upholds a sharp distinction between the three sectors and their distinct logic. This article claims that the separation of spheres is a fundamental part of our ‘social imaginary’ and as such dominates our way of thinking about civil society. Yet, this view hinders the understanding of how civil society is not a pre-existing or given sphere, but a sphere which is constantly produced both discursively, conceptually and practically. Through two examples; 1,the case of philanthropy in the beginning of the century. 2, the laws and strategies of implementing regarding the regulation of civil societal institutions (folkeoplysningsloven) since the 1970’s this paper shows how civil society in 20th century Denmark was produced both conceptually and practically and how this entailed a specific vision and version of civil society.
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41st Annual Meeting of the Social Science History Association, 2016