National Research University “Higher School of Economics”, Moscow 109028, Russian Federation
This study is based on the results of the author's participation in the VIII International Congress of Comparative Law “Comparative law in search of a constitutional ideal” and is an attempt to compare the ideal and actually existing models of civil society in a comparative legal perspective. The specificity of the study of civil society in legal studies is that it appears in them mainly as an idealized normative construct, which is very different from its constituent elements (almost by analogy with the definition of such an abstract category as “system”). This understanding of civil society does not help clarify the boundaries between it and the state. However, this issue should have the key status in the relevant legal studies. Discussions on civil society should be based on a realistic understanding of it and take into account a number of constitutive characteristics (autonomy, pluralism, activism, selfregulation, self-organization, voluntariness, non-violence, etc.). The erosion of these characteristics is evidence of the crisis situation of civil society institutions. In this paper, we develop a hypothesis that suggests the connection of the essential characteristics of civil society with a number of basic political rights, freedoms and principles. The main focus of the work is on the approaches and methodology of legal studies of civil society. The work is critically analyzed the interpretation of civil society, where it is considered as a set of ideas about the proper state of society. In response to this understanding, arguments are presented to prove that the current concept limits the ability of the scientific doctrine to be critical of the state's arbitrary determination of the parameters of its relations with civil society. The approach that is most appropriate for both the complexity of the phenomenon and the subject area of legal research are chosen to consider civil society in an institutional context. The paper proves the need to use an empirical approach in civil society research, which will allow combining “existing” and “due” in order to form a theory and legal policy that is complementary to the interests of organized civil society.
organized civil society, civil society organizations, proper and existing, essential characteristics of civil society, empirical and legal research.
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