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Zivilgesellschaft - eine Erschließung des Themas von seinen Grenzen her


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  • Gosewinkel, Dieter
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    Das discussion paper verfolgt berichtende, methodische und konzeptionelle Ziele: Dargestellt werden, erstens, die laufenden Forschungsprojekte der Arbeitsgruppe „Zivilgesellschaft“ am Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin. Sie sind interdisziplinär – vor allem historisch und sozialwissenschaftlich - angelegt und gruppieren sich um die vier Schwerpunkte: Zivilgesellschaft, Staat und Recht; Zivilgesellschaft und Wirtschaft anhand des Konzepts des Vertrauens; soziale Praktiken zivilgesellschaftlicher Interaktion; Zivilgesellschaft und nicht-bürgerliche Trägerschichten. Methodisch tritt der Beitrag, zweitens, für eine konsequente Historisierung des Konzepts Zivilgesellschaft ein, die normative und idealtypische Gehalte des Konzepts aus ihrer historischen Bedingtheit und Wandelbarkeit heraus im Hinblick auf die Träger, programmatischen Gehalte und Gegner von Zivilgesellschaft begreift. Schließlich wird, drittens, konzeptionell vorgeschlagen, die politisch-soziale Wirklichkeit in die normativ aufgeladene Debatte um Zivilgesellschaft hineinzubringen, indem das Konzept Zivilgesellschaft von seinen historischen Bedingungen der Möglichkeit, von seinen Grenzen her, analysiert wird. Es wird argumentiert, Gewalt, Macht und Exklusion nicht als Gegenteil, sondern als Teil, gegebenenfalls auch als Bedingung der Möglichkeit realer zivilgesellschaftlicher Konstellationen zu verstehen. Ausgehend von der These, daß Zivilgesellschaft als Programm um so wirkungsmächtiger ist, je eindeutiger die Verfechter des Konzepts die Grenzen zu ihren Gegnern bestimmen, wird dafür plädiert, Zivilgesellschaft von der Selbstdefinition derjenigen Akteursgruppen her zu analysieren, die sich als Zivilgesellschaft verstehen. -- This paper makes a methodological and conceptual contribution to the debates on civil society while documenting the ongoing research of the WZB working group on the subject. Combining mainly historical and social science perspectives, these interdisciplinary projects are centred around four thematic areas: (1) civil society, state and law, (2) civil society and economy using the concept of ‘trust’ as an example, (3) forms of social interaction specific to civil society, and (4) civil society and its workingclass proponents. The second part of the paper advocates a historicization of the normative and conceptual framework of the idea of ‘civil society’ which reflects its historical relativity and flexibility with regard to its programmatic content and its implications for its proponents as well as its opponents. The third part makes an argument for shifting the emphasis to a fine grained empirical analysis of social and political reality as a counterweight to the normative overloading of the concept. It is argued that violence, power and exclusion should be understood as a part of, or even as a necessary requirement for, the emergence of civil constellations. The concept should be analysed from the perspective of the self-definitions of those groups of actors who see themselves as civil society actors. It is proposed that the idea of civil society gains in programmatic power, the more strongly its advocates define themselves in contrast to their opponents and thus demarcate more clearly the boundaries of the sphere of civil society.

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    Paper provided by Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB) in its series Discussion Papers, Working Group Civil Society: Historical and Comparative Perspectives with number SP IV 2003-505.

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    Date of creation: 2003
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    Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzbhis:spiv2003505

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