hosted by the Centre for Citizenship, Civil Society and Rule of Law (CISRUL)at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland
Workshop: Monday 25th – Tuesday 26th June
PhD summer school: Wednesday 27th June – Thursday 28th June
We propose to examine the concept of ‘civil society’ not just in contemporary Europe and North America but historically and in contexts across the world as well as across academic disciplines. We will seek not to define ‘civil society’ but to identify the consequences – political, legal, social, moral, epistemological – of particular ways in which ‘civil’ and ‘society’ have been defined in different times and places. In so doing we will pose five overarching questions:
1. What has been held (in different times and places) to make a society (or part of it) civil as opposed to uncivil (or barbarous)?
2. How has civil society been distinguished as a domain or sphere of society from domains considered non-civil (as opposed to uncivil) such as politics, the military, the ecclesiastical or religious, the economy, and law?
3. When civil society has been used to refer to one part of a broader society, such as recently for the NGO sector, how is the civil part supposed to relate to society as a whole? What or who is included in or excluded from civil society, and on what grounds? For example, do issues considered non-public get excluded from discussion in civil society, and if so, what does that say about the link between concepts of civil society and of the public?
4. What notions of society lie behind notions of civil society? This latter question will push us to reflect on concepts of society, from the medieval and early modern periods to the 19th-century birth of social sciences to contemporary debates about whether society exists or not.
5. Are notions of civil society (and society) defined by law or by some other means, and what is the difference in practice?
We are calling for abstracts of twenty-minute presentations that would respond to our questions and help to open up discussion – over half the workshop time will be devoted to discussion - among scholars from the range of disciplines that will be represented at the workshop.
Confirmed speakers include Jeffrey Alexander (Sociology, Yale), Maurizio Viroli (Political Theory, Princeton) and Philip Oxhorn (Institute for the Study of International Development, McGill).
The deadline is Friday 13th April. Further information and applications forms are available at www.abdn.ac.uk/cisrul
CISRUL is also offering PhD studentships to start in September 2012 - details on the website.
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