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The author offers a comprehensive definition of what a civil society should be, drawing on the vast outpouring of democratic activities within the Third World, as well as of those forces that inhibit or thwart the full realisation of civil society. The author argues that the diversity of such activities are indicative not just of the potential of civil society but also, and more importantly, of the lessons that they teach us on the limits of representative democracy, on the adverse implications of the current patterns of development, and on the responsibility of citizens in contemporary society – lessons that are fundamental to the building of a democratic and just polity and a humane society.

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