Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hegel Account of Civil Society

Question one
From the reading describe the characteristic of the two sides of civil society in ancient times.
Ancient civil society comprised of two sides the domestic side of life and the political side of life according to Hunt (15:1996) the ancient notion of a civil society was a synonym for political society. The ancient notion of civil society was not contrasted not with the political state but either the domestic society of the family or the political state of nature. The domestic side of the notion of civil society was characterized with family and interpersonal relationships; the extent to which society is coherent and harmonious, spirituality, religion and philosophy. One of the major characteristics of the domestic side of life according to Hunt (16:1996) civil society was there to provide everything necessary for supply the wants of society and to employ the inhabitants.

The other side of the ancient notion of civil society was the political side the one referred to by Hunt (17; 1996) as the polis in Greek it was a public arena in which citizens demonstrated their knowledge of civic affairs and prudence. Issues of governance, security and peace were addressed with this group. According to Hunt (16:1996) the characteristic of this side was the classical republican model of citizenship as the active participation of free and economically independent citizens in the affairs of the polis.

Question Two
What is the impact of, or how does this new conceptualisation of civil society by Hegel, alter the past conceptualization and what does it bring that is new.

The modern notion of civil society has changed from that of the ancient times according to Hunt (16; 1996) civil society is a realm of social interaction independent of the state which is decisively influenced by the market economy as a social institution that can function in the absence of direct moral and political supervision. Hegel introduced the notion that the market economy plays a pivotal role in the formation and existence of the civil society according to Hunt (17:1996) this notion represents an emancipation of economic needs and the satisfaction from the confines of the household as well as depoliticizing of public life. The Hegel thesis the direct participation of political activities of the state hindered the citizens to economic roles, this altered out the past conception that civil society its main aim was involvement in politics of the state.

The impact of the Hegel model; tripartite division of domestic, economic and political society was the different form the past conception that of politics as the expense of the public virtue at the expense of private satisfaction it resulted according to Hunt (17; 1996) in the direct participation in affairs of the state limited to the class of professional civil servants whilst the role of the state limited to the independent functioning of the market economy. The location of the civil society between the spheres of the family and of the state resulted in the correspondence to different psychological bases of human association.

Louis D. Hunt, 1996 “Civil Society and the Idea of a Commercial Republic,” Western Models (New York: Routledge,)