Markets and Civil Society


Conceptual Recap

-          State (as apparatus of power and administration)

-          Government (as individuals to who rule the state)

-          Regime (system for deciding who governs the state and regulating the broad boundaries of state authority)



“Institutions are the humanly devised constraints that structure political, economic, and social interaction. They consist of both informal constraints (sanctions, taboos, customs, traditions, and codes of conduct), and formal rules (constitutions, laws, property rights).”


- Douglass C. North, “Institutions,” Journal of Economic Perspectives 5:1 (Winter 1991) 97



Civil Society and Markets as Institutions


Markets: the legal rules and social relationships for exchange and production


Civil Society: associational life independent of the state, or sphere of public deliberation and association

-          often conceptualized as separate from primarily economic organizations like firms and unions



Society and the State

-          Society: persons and organizations within the boundaries of the polity but not part of the state

-          Interest groups: organized groups advancing a political agenda in the (material) interest of the group

§         Principled interest groups: organized groups advancing a political agenda based on a set of principles (beliefs of fact, causation, and rectitude) rather than collective material interest

·        Firms and unions are economic interest groups; human rights and pro- and anti-abortion groups are principled interest groups

-          NGOs: voluntary organizations, usually with a charitable, non-profit, or community service agenda

-          Social movements: an aggrieved class of persons mobilizing on a widespread basis

-          Political parties?


‘Vibrant’ Civil Society as Necessary Component for Democracy


-          civil activity outside state or party control

-          distinct from patronage networks

-          not market-oriented activity

-          socializes citizens in participation and deliberation