Beate Kohler-Koch, Acar Kutay
Civil Society and the European Union

(e-only). Regina A. List, Helmut K. Anheier, Stefan Toepler (Hrsg.): International Encyclopedia of Civil Society. 2020. Cham: Springer

Civil Society and the European Union Definition Despite broad academic interest, the concept of civil society in the context of the EU has remained highly ambiguous. Finke’s observation (2007, p. 20) that two scholars who refer to civil society and the EU do not necessarily mean the same thing is still valid today. The discipline (as well as the philosophical/methodological presuppositions) within which researchers are positioned guide their approach to civil society. Comparative political scientists, IR scholars, political sociologists, and normative political theorists examine civil society from different perspectives. Furthermore, scholars are attached to their own research agenda. Consequently, those who are primarily interested in the constitutionalization of the EU (Fossum and Trenz 2006) will take a different stance than those who take issue with the relocation of social activism. Trenz (2009) has defined European civil society as a discursive formation within the public sphere, whereas Della Porta and Caiani (2009) see civil society as the embodiment of social movement activities and political contestations. Those who want to know how the involvement of civil society in EU governance affects the democratic legitimacy of the Union (Kohler-Koch and Quittkat 2013) or EU policy-making (Klüver 2013) focus on civil society organizations (CSOs) articulating and representing the interests of citizens.