In the last two decades, civil society has re-emerged as a popular notion amongst academics and politicians alike. John A. Hall and Frank Trentmann provide the first critical selection of texts on the evolution of civil society as a seminal and hotly debated idea from the seventeenth century to the present. Combining European texts with global debates about civil society, including texts about Islam, China, and human rights, this critical edition is essential reading for students and academics in history, sociology, politics, and international relations as well as social activists interested in civil society today.
'Frank Trentmann and John Hall rescue the concept of civil society from hazy approbration and lazy usage. By inserting contestation, complexity and change into the past and present of the concept, in theory and in practice, in west and the rest, their selection of texts is an indispensable starting point for thinking about civil society.' - Professor Martin Daunton, Master of Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge
'The editors wear their erudition lightly, but their masterful editing of over seventy contributors creates a vibrant conversation. The volume succeeds because of their wisdom and intellectual creativity.' - Deborah Davis, Professor of Sociology, Yale University, USA