Civil Society

… a core concept in Socioeconomic and Political Context and Atlas105.

Concept description

The United Nations (reference below) defines civil society as “the “third sector” of society, along with government and business.”

The BBC World Service (reference below) notes the challenge of a precise definition:

“The paradox about civil society is that it covers a vast range of activities – yet it’s very hard to define.

“One description puts it quite succinctly:

“A civil society is a public space between the state, the market and the ordinary household, in which people can debate and tackle action.”

“So that could include any voluntary collective activity in which people combine to achieve change on a particular issue – but not political parties, even though civil society has a political dimension.

“By this definition, civil society includes charities; neighbourhood self-help schemes; international bodies like the UN or the Red Cross; religious-based pressure-groups; human rights campaigns in repressive societies; and non-governmental organisations improving health, education and living-standards in both the developed and developing nations.”

Atlas topic, subject, and course

The Study of the Socioeconomic Context for Politics and Policy (core topic) in Socioeconomic and Political Context and Atlas105.


United Nations (2018), Civil Society, at, accessed 11 December 2018.

BBC World Service (2001), What is Civil Society?, 5 July 2001, at, accessed 11 December 2018.

Page created by: Alec Wreford and Ian Clark, last modified on 11 December 2018.

Image: Gabby Turner, The Function and Impact of Civil Societies and Civil Society Organizations, Medium, at, accessed 11 December 2018.