One of the problems of the civil society debate for anthropologists and other social scientists is the persistent dualism of state and society. This dualism lends rhetorical power to an oppositionist discourse, but it should not be accepted uncritically as a basis for analysis. Hence the calls for anthropologists to explore analytically the ‘entwining’ of state and society (Hann 1993). But even before this area of entwining is examined, it is important to recognise the institutional plurality that exists on both sides. The debate over civil society has tended to be couched in terms of a tension between a totalitarian national state and a national civil society as a site of resistance. Yet national societies do not, as a rule, exist simply as single, undifferentiated national units, but are themselves divided into local and/or regional units of governance with their own greater or lesser powers. This issue of the institutionalised local differentiation of governance may hardly have arisen in the centralised polities of Eastern Europe, but elsewhere, in liberal democratic polities, local government is enshrined as a core feature of the political order.
|Title of host publication||Civil society: challenging western models|
|Editors||Elizabeth Dunn, Chris Hann|
|ISBN (Print)||9780415132190, 9780415132183|
|Publication status||Published - 05 Sep 1996|