The Role of Civil Society in Democracy

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The Role of Civil Society in Democracy Keith Sanders July 20, 2013 CIV 410 Victoria Labs As one looks at the history of democracy, it is common to detect an undertone, a rush of voices clamoring for purchase in the debate regarding how the country will be governed. It is my belief that this undertone is the footprint of civil society, a segment of democratic societies that often can be difficult to identify. Much has been said about how difficult civil society is to define. However, as I read the various definitions and came to my own conclusion, it seemed to me that we should look at civil society as the vital foundation on which democracy is built. There are definitely challenges and civil society is not perfect, but democracy itself is…show more content…
I believe that Brian O’Connell elucidates an important pre-condition for the strong civil society that developed in this country when it was simply a part of the British Empire (O’Connell, 1999). When British settlers first came to North America, it was a largely untamed wilderness, and to some degree the first settlers were entirely on their own, since many of them were religious dissidents, seeking a place to practice the faith they deemed to be correct. The colonies that were set up by the British largely came once they were made aware of the natural bounty that existed in North America. The first settlers’ isolation and the subsequent isolation that even the official British colonies experienced forced people to organize and to create associations; institutions such as churches, granges, unions, public services such as fire companies, sheriff’s offices, and militias (O’Connell, 1999). These institutions began to represent the American experience, as our means of socialization and support. Therefore, as I see it, civil society came first and in truth created the framework upon which our founding fathers laid our representative democracy. The groups and institutions that were created during the settling of North America gave America the confidence to legally declare its separation from Great Britain. As I see it, the successful
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