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Understanding ‘Society’, ‘Civil Society’ and ‘State’

Posted by Sandeep Shelke on August 24th, 2011

Since start of this year, 2011, we are seeing a conflict between civil society and state in Bharat. Though all of us know little piece about each but mostly we lack the clear knowledge. Here is my attempt to explain the terms in tweet format. Yesterday I was tweeting about Society, Civil Society and State through my twitter handle @SandeepShelke which I’m reproducing here as it is (not in any particular order).

What is Society?

Society is a community with hierarchically organized & maintained social practices which establishes the power equations and relationships among the members of the society. tweet.

What is Civil Society?

  1. Its a public sphere of society.
  2. Its a place where expressions are meditated through debates and discussions. tweet
  3. It concerns itself to matters relating to society.
  4. It controls & makes state responsible thru democratic practices. tweet
  5. It monitors democratic norms & procedures.
  6. It makes sure that political accountability is present in social order apart from political system (state). tweet
  7. Its a process which seeks to breach & counteract the totalization attempted by the state.
  8. Its a place where state is forbidden to shape any opinion. tweet

In short Civil Society is an open platform for members of society to present, discuss, debate various ideas, experiences. State must not interfere and try not shape the decision. It also keeps check of ‘limits on state power’. tweet

What is State?

  1. It has power to legitimize & recognize social relations.
  2. It is distinct & irreducible(why). tweet
  3. It is a set of specifically political practices which define & enforce binding decisions.
  4. It intervenes every aspect of life of members of society. tweet
  5. Only it can coerce, no other organization can coerce. But it derives power from society and social interest must be on forefront.
  6. It gives fixity to social relations & social stability to society. tweet
  7. It must remain within framework of a given society, but has to re-enact rules as per social changes. tweet

State has power entrusted by society to select, categorize, crystallize & arrange power in formal codes & institutions for taking decisions, enforcing decisions & coercing decisions if anyone defies. tweet

Hope this helps a little bit, maybe a first step for further understanding and exploration on these topics.

Jai Bharat!

2 Responses to “Understanding ‘Society’, ‘Civil Society’ and ‘State’”

  1. senthil Says:

    the concept of civil society itself is fake.. both the state and civil society is western notion.. in our bharathiya political structure, there is no such distinction..

  2. संदीप नारायण शेळके Says:


    Agree. But the problem that we face today are not because of only western concepts; its because of improper education which British imparted to subjugate us. And I’m not against all western things. Those which are good we can and must adopt.

    Anyways these things are part of us now. And we can get read of those only through education and awareness. We need more research on native political structure and to my expectation there are no institutes/colleges which teach native theories. Share if you know any.

    All current Political Science and Public Administration courses contents are western and there is no mention of any of the democratic processes existed in this nation. And the blind half-hearted aspirants start believing that only westerners devised policies and processes; which is blatant lie.

    I’m studying current subjects to have grasp of the situation.

    Jai Bharat!

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