Bowling in the Bronx: the uncivil interstices between civil and political society

Laurence Whitehead

After contrasting the inclusive, universal character of democratic notions of political citizenship (within the relevant jurisdiction) with the exclusivity that necessarily marks civil society the essay argues that the interstices between these two forms will favour the production of multiple variants of "incivility". The category of "uncivil citizens" is defined as those who enjoy political rights but are not constrained by the norms of the civil society: anti-social individuals and groups whose recognizable shorthand can be found in the term "mafia". The essay then focuses on whether the greatest threat to civil society may come neither from intrusive statism nor from unthinking tradition, but from the "insecurity, rootlessness, arbitrariness, and perhaps even the social cannibalism" that have come to be associated with many post-transition liberalized societies.

Political society; Civil society; Citizenship; Incivility; "Máfia"


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