RECON Report No 5



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Reconstituting Democracy from Below

New Approaches to Civil Society in the New Europe

Ulrike Liebert and Hans-Jörg Trenz (eds)

RECON Report No 5

ARENA Report 6/08, Oslo, December 2008


The EU is considered the world’s most advanced regional multilevel polity. It has effective governance capacities in a broad range of public policy fields but does not amount to a supranational state. Over the past two decades, civil society has played a pivotal role in Europe, from the demise of Communist rule and the democratisation and economic transformation of East Central Europe, and the dissolution of the iron curtain that divided Europe for over four decades, to the reunification of Europe and the enlargement of the European Union.

This report brings together contributions aimed at mapping the current state of the art in civil society research empirically and theoretically. The present compilation reflects ‘work in progress’, and is an effort to bring together normative democratic theory, legal, political and sociological analysis as well as case studies and comparative analyses. It seeks to stimulate conversations among different accounts of what role civil society play in the enlarged EU, a dialogue that is important for understanding the intellectual, disciplinary, cultural and social boundaries that continue to shape - and fragment - contemporary Europe. The editors argue that in the enlarged EU, the normative foundations and political functions of civil society have undergone profound changes generating new problems and questions, but have also stimulated search for conceptual clarifications and theoretical innovations.



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Elaborated and peer-reviewed versions of some of the contributions will be published in a forthcoming special issue of Policy and Society: ‘New Approaches to Civil Society in Europe’, edited by Ulrike Liebert and Hans-Jörg Trenz (2009).


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