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SILVA, Marcelo Kunrath. Civil society and democratic construction: from essentialist manichaeism to the relational approach. Sociologias [online]. 2006, n.16, pp.156-179. ISSN 1517-4522.

This article aims at debating an "object" that has deserved little attention when traditional and authoritarian traits that block democratic construction in Brazil are examined: "civil society". Based on the theoretical-methodological support of Norbert Elias' "relational sociology" and the empirical foundation provided by comparative analysis between civil society and municipal governments in two cities of Porto Alegre's metropolitan area, we question an essentialist and unifying approach of social actors that sees civil society as a space for diversity, power relations and conflict, where actors marked by several orientations meet and keep distinct relations to democracy.

Keywords : Civil Society; Relational Sociology; Social Participation; Democratization.

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