What is ‘Civil Society’?

The term ‘civil society’ refers to the relationships and associations that make up our lives at the grass-roots level of society in families, neighbourhoods and voluntary associations – independent of both government and the commercial world.

“Our aim is strengthen civil society and empower people within it.”

The term does not refer to ‘politeness’ or ‘civility’ in public life, as important as that is. It refers to that part of society that is not part of the state, hence the term ‘civilian’ when used to distinguish a person in civil society from military personnel or state officials, or the notion of a civil offence in law which is an offence between persons rather than a criminal matter.

Vern Hughes

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