- La société civile européenne: les usages d'une fiction
- Raisons Politiques
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
This article draws the attention to the multiple uses of the term "civil society" by political actors in Europe. Since the end of the 1990s, there is a shift in literature from interest groups to civil society. Social actors are not any more considered as a significant contribution to the European construction process but as a means for the legitimation of European institutions. The term civil society can indeed be easily used for political advertising as it integrates diverse (and even contradictory) world views. However, European political leaders in their daily practise insist on a pluralist conception (inspired by liberal views). Civil society is then synonymous with interest groups society. This use of the term is not shared by the voluntary sector as they consider they deserve a specific treatment based on their value-based behaviour. European political and administrative actors impose the specific semantics that suits them best, but they may have not considered that by using the term civil society, they contribute to the legitimation of universal values out of the political realm. Ambiguity in politics is an art full of risks.
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