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Civil Society and the Government

            Civil society is defined as "the arena of uncoerced collective action around shared interests, purposes and values, covering common interests whether it be political, economic, cultural, scientific, anthropological, social interests" (Mathi, 2008). Civil society groups fulfill an important function as they work voluntarily to bring about positive social changes and provide better services to the people. According to the book Civil Society and Government, "productive tension " exists between civil society and government. When the government institutes too many rules and regulations over civil society, civil society will "wither away." However, if civil society is left unchecked, the state can "collapse into anarchic disorder" (Rosenblum, 2001). Hence, how far should the government be responsible for growing civil society in order to achieve an optimum "productive tension" such that the people benefit from civil society, whilst ensuring that the state remains effectively governed? In this essay, I shall explain why I believe that the government should not be responsible for growing civil society, but instead should be responsible for providing an environment that allows civil society to grow independently. .
             Civil society and the government have different roles to fulfill and should remain distinct and independent. Civil society is a zone of freedom for individuals and groups to shape their norms and determine for themselves the internal structure of group authority, purpose and identity. In contrast, the government is a domain of common purpose and identity, characterized by overarching public norms made and enforced by a legal framework and implemented by official institutions. Civil society is non-governmental and is distinct from the government's official, coercive and political structure" (Rosenblum, 2001). If the government were to be responsible for growing civil society, the very nature of its inherent rigid structure would run counter to the free form structure of civil society.

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