Journal of Social Sciences

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In civil society studies, Antonio Gramsci, an Italian Marxist theoretician and politician, is regarded as a major thinker, if not, a hero, who reversely developed Hegel's ideas of the state and society. In particular, it is the notion of civil society which significantly distinguishes Gramsci from Hegel and Marx, not the notion of the state. Gramsci principally differentiated 'civil society' form 'political society'. He seemingly rejected the clear differentiation drawn in mainstream liberal theory between the state and civil society; instead, he said that civil society and state are one and the same. For Gramsci, 'State' is a sum of political society and civil society. State for Gramsci is broader than the state in common use. It denotes the political organization of society, the visible political constitution of civil society, not the government. Control of the state is accomplished through hegemony in civil society which is achieved through consent. Contrasted with the liberal concept of civil society favouring the protective role of civil society toward the individual against the giant power of the state, Gramsci's civil society instead functions as protective filter for the state. Civil society for Gramsci is thus essential; a state without civil society is a transparent one. Arguably, Gramsci's writing portrays an intricate and dialectic interrelationship between civil society, the state, and hegemony. Within this relationship civil society performs a dual and dialectic role, as an agent of government and the hegemonic forces that dominate the state. It might not be wrong to think that Gramsci did remake civil society into something more than a mere fiction and recapture the idea of Hegel about civil society as an essential mechanism for reaching a more energetic form of social unity.

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