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Civil Society: Ideas, Practices and Dilemmas in the Modern World, 17th Century to the Present


Module description

This module explores the rise, tensions, decline and revival of 'civil society' in the modern period. We shall look at the different meanings of the idea as well as looking at social, cultural and political developments. Readings, discussion and presentations will connect the European history of ‘civil society' with more recent debates about its global democratic potential in other parts of the globe. You will discuss a mix of primary and secondary sources from the history of ideas, cultural history and politics. Weekly themes include toleration and democracy, sociability and gender, imperial culture, the revival of civil society in Eastern Europe, the controversy about the decline of civic America, and the debate about global civil society. The module will provide you with an opportunity to read key texts closely and to think comparatively.