Civil Society is the name given to the recent status acquired by “the people”; the collection of individuals coexisting as one society, as a national community. This notion that appeared only recently in humankind’s history designates the interacting dimension or space of the group of individuals living jointly within a specific territory, sharing same resources, with intertwined narratives and depending on a same rule-making source or sovereign. It represents a new legal standing of the people, a new rights-based or juridical empowerment repositioning of the members of the public vis-a-vis the authorities of a modern State.
Stemming from the same conceptual and linguistic root as the terms civilization, city, civility, and civicism, the term “civil” is an adjective qualifying the new contemporary human society. It englobes the sole and grouped actions and interaction of individuals of a given community acting freely liberally independently voluntarily -privately- amidst themselves, as acting members of a conglomerated way of living, of public coexistence. This personal and private interactive dimension of humans is the ambit where intimate convictions, personals preferences and private decisions of each member of the community and of the community at large, take place. The dimension also in which people exchange and aggregate their ideas, convictions, and preferences in a human plural vast and diverse dialogue and occasionally determine to organise amidst themselves to intervene their culture, increase the wellbeing of its community or seek to better the rules and institutions that govern them.
Hence the idea of Civil society is intertwined with that of the compass of action, of human rights or range of freedom enjoyable by each person of the community. It is within the civil/private dimension of human society expressions of needs and aspirations, ideas and emotions including those of empathy, solidarity, philanthropy, civicness, humanitarianism, altruism, and mutualism along those of art, music, faith, popular science, philosophy, and debate take place.
Civil Society designates the plane of human life and social coexistence that is separated from that of the political power of the State. A vast concept that is increasingly distinguished not only form the government but overall linked partisan politics of the political society, from religion and faith-based organisations and the productive society structured by the calculus of industry and mercantile trade. The narrowing of the concept is such that since the mid XXth century the civil dimension of society existing since centuries began to be asserted under the blanket term of non-governmental and not-for-profit organisations and, in the socioeconomic level of analysis of their civil society communication and interaction, denoted as actors of the social and solidarity economy of the national community.