Discourses of Civil Society and Civility in the Reflection of Modern Democracy

Saulius Šiliauskas


The article deals with the contradictory effect of civil society and civility discourses for the theory of modern democracy. The author concentrates on observed two main theoretical approaches towards the role and position of civil society in new democracies. Following the cautious optimism of “neotocquevillians” the transition from undemocratic regime to the democracy was influenced of universal and global spread of democracy. In the transitional period civil society comes into play as the guarantee for consolidating democracy. Scientists skeptics don’t share this view and not consider civil society as the panacea building democracy.
Civility can be described as an ethos of citizens conduct, necessary condition for real democracy. Social capital theory inspired discussion on the influence of “republican virtues” upon the modern democracy. However, the more important question is what type of civil society promotes democracy.
The manifestations of civility discourse complicated the creation of liberal democracy at the initial stage of postcommunist transformations in East and Central European countries. Seeking more authentic reflection of modern democracy in their own country Lithuanian social scientists should: 1) discard all the uncritical approaches to the Western models of civil society; 2) propose the original decision while trying to solve the dilemma of modern democracy, because the one suggested by L. Siedentop is hardly applicable for societies which lack the liberal hinge.


civil society; civility; participation; modern democracy; discourse; theories of democracy

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"Public Policy and Administration" ISSN online 2029-2872 / ISSN print 1648-2603