By Jean L. Cohen
During this significant contribution to modern political concept, Jean Cohen and Andrew Arato argue that the concept that of civil society articulates a contested terrain within the West that may turn into a main locus for the growth of democracy and rights.
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Extra resources for Civil Society and Political Theory
In company with many participants, our book takes a clear stand in these conflicts on behalf of a modern civil society capable of preserving its autonomy and forms of solidarity in face of the modern economy as well as the state. The rest of this book will, we hope, contribute to the further development of the discourse of civil society and thereby benefit the actors and interpreters we present in this chapter. Second, neither revolution from below nor reform from above would work as the strategy for achieving what was in fact possible.
41If the socioeconomic supports for workers and the poor are terminated in the name of refurbishing the work ethic, the compulsion of the market will certainly return, but so will the gross injustices, dissatisfaction, instability, and class confrontations that characterized the capitalist economies prior to welfare state policies. Thus the neolaissezfaire alternative to the "crisis" of the welfare state is as internally contradictory as the illness it purports to cure. It seems that liberal democratic market societies cannot coexist with, nor can they exist without, the welfare state.
29This allegedly leads to a focus on nonpolitical forms of freedom (negative liberty) and an impoverished conception of political identity, agency, and ethical life. Indeed, duties of loyalty and membership are and must be primary. Only on the basis of a shared conception of the good life, only within the framework of a substantive ethical political community (with a specific political culture) can we lead meaningful moral lives and enjoy true freedom. Taken together, the empirical and normative criticisms of the rights thesis imply that freedom must have its original locus not in the isolated individual but in the society that is the medium of individuation: in the structures, institutions, practices of the larger social whole.