Various interests, ideas, and beliefs present in, and emanating from, a society are served and promoted in a selection of ways through the civil society framework. Human solidarity on a voluntary basis is a basic principle of any civil society. Primordial relations, by contrast, such as those of family, tribe, region, nation, or religion do not necessarily form a part of civil society. This is because, to a significant extent, membership in such groupings is simply of an ascribed nature (i.e. acquired by birth and/or blood ties) and not based on voluntary choice. That does not mean, however, that tribal or religious life is by definition excluded from the realm of civil society. Within such spheres, people may very well engage in social good in common voluntary activities to serve their aims, interests, and convictions. Such voluntary engagement presupposes a kind of reflexive consciousness regarding values, ideals and preferences on the part of individual participants. However, the idea of individual consciousness may not be lauded above all factors, as some liberals are inclined to do. No individual develops his or her values, ideals, or preferences entirely detached from relations with other individuals and from the general social, cultural, political, and economic environment in which he or she lives.
Reflexivity always has a strong social and contextual dimension. In order to be defined clearly, civil society must also stand in contradistinction to other spheres of political being. Since the end of the 18thcentury, it has been defined mainly in contradistinction to the state. In this reading, civil society is the institutional and associational expression of society vis-à-vis the state. By organizing themselves voluntarily, citizens create a realm in which their interests, ideas, beliefs, and preferences are served and promoted in accordance with their own desires and choices. In other words, a kind of counterbalance against the domination of bureaucratic state institutions, who are inclined to impose their own points of view, laws, and regulations on the social good domain, is provided for. Such voluntary organizations may directly oppose state institutions and/or their policies, but do not necessarily have to do so. What all of them do achieve, however, is to contribute to an institutionalized societal and cultural domain that is, to a greater or lesser extent, autonomous from the state.
According to certain political and social scientists, civil society should be distinguished from the realm of the economy as well. By this term, they mean the socio-cultural realm of everyday human relationships, cooperation, and solidarity guided by norms, values, and cultural traditions in which individual identities are formed. Interpersonal communication is the rule in this sphere. Neither is oriented toward social life with its cultural norms but rather is oriented toward empirical interests to be served as effectively and systematically as possible. In the case of the state, this interest is power, which is served through a hierarchical system of sub and superordination linked ultimately too negative sanctions exercised by the higher ranks in this system. In the case of the economy, the interest is financial gain – an interest that is served through systems of exchange and economic efficiency. In the sub-systems of state and economy, we find communicative patterns that are characterized by a “certain automatism,” and that share a more impersonal and formal nature than occurs in communication within the lifeworld.
Balanced civil societies emerge when justified processes reach order within the lifeworld. Such processes occur between factions that used to exist within one and the same institutional sphere. This applies to the realm of socialization, in which differentiation has taken place between family, on the one hand, and school education on the other. It applies equally to the realm of social integration, which is divided into various groups, collectives, and associations. In the sphere of cultural reproduction, differentiation has taken place between the religious, the artistic, and the scientific. Even the basic constituents of the spheres of personality, society, and culture stand as differentiated from one another. In this process, personal identities and interpersonal relations are freed from the unquestionable acceptance of traditional values and institutions. The production of social good culture is freed from the dominance of external social institutions. Not surprisingly, such a process results in the emergence of a more critical and reflexive relationship to tradition. Reflexive forms of association, publicity, solidarity, and identity come into being.
On the level of communication, norms, established patterns, and definitions of situations are questioned and reinterpreted by the members of the society. Such a process results also in a new type of voluntary association, with equal rights of membership, freed from kinship, patriarchal and other ascriptive restrictions on belonging and holding office. This type of association renews its forms of solidarity primarily in the free interaction of its present members. Such a modern civil society needs to be secured by rights that are legally codified. It also implies that, unlike in traditional settings, the tasks of administration of the society are separated from the lifeworld and left to specialized state institutions, and that the economic tasks are left to the enterprises and companies of the market. In this way, the lifeworld will be freed from the burden of the patterns of communication essential to the two subsystems. The latter, in turn, need also to be institutionally anchored within the lifeworld if they are to be responsive to its needs and demands.
SOCIAL GOOD MESSAGE
Sparrows by morning, live in peaceful nests! Design shouldn’t dominate things, shouldn’t dominate people. It should help people. Don’t spend your time solving your favorite problems, solve problems that need to be solved, generically. A home is a place where you live, and society is a place where your story begins. Honesty shares honesty, as it is honesty’s nature. Stay always in Ablution and get back to the trust you have been, with.