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Civil Society comprises the relationships and
activities that make up our life at grass-roots levels of society, in families,
communities and voluntary associations, independent of both government and the
Civil Society comprises eight key segments:
Family, kinship and friendship networks
Household or domestic economies
Neighbourhoods and informal social supports
Voluntary associations, self-help and support groups
NGOs and charities
Social enterprises, cooperatives and mutuals
Family farms, family enterprises, small businesses
Religion, faith and spirituality*
*note: our interest here is in the relationships and activities generated by faith or spirituality-based communities, not in endorsement or promotion of any one particular faith or spiritual tradition.
These diverse social forms have three features in common:
Relational – they are defined by relationships
Associational – they are shaped by formal or informal bonds
Voluntary – they are formed without compulsion
The governing Council of
Civil Society Australia is made up of three representatives of
each of these eight segments of civil society. Read about the members of the
The 'not-for-profit' sector of organisations is one strand in civil society, alongside informal and voluntary forms of association and activity. The 'not-for-profit' sector is not more important than informal and voluntary forms of association, though it currently attracts far greater attention from governments, policy makers and academics than other forms of relationship and association.
In Australia, civil society is largely ignored in public life. Personal and social well-being is primarily determined in and by civil society, but discussion about civil society has been almost entirely absent from Australian public debate for the last century.
In the last thirty years in particular, a managerial
revolution has swept through government, business and non-government
organisations which has deeply marginalised civil society. Managerialism has had
the effect of shifting agency and responsibility for personal and social
well-being away from the relationships and institutions of civil society onto a
class of public, private and NGO sector managers. This process has almost killed
off the instinct for, and practice of, voluntary association and the shared generation of moral and social capital.
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this form or through PAYPAL.
© Civil Society Australia 2015