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Promoting Democracy: The Challenge of Creating a Civil Society

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image of Comparative Sociology
For content published from 1960-2001, see International Journal of Comparative Sociology.

Perhaps the most notable feature of "democracy" today is its almost universal acceptance as the only legitimate form of government. Most examples of open dissent against this view are so patently self-interested as to command little respect. Yet however attractive it may be, the development of modern democracy has been largely an incremental product of Europe and its colonial diaspora, which embody quite specific cultural and social assumptions. Now these states have become dedicated to democracy's extension around the world. This paper examines the nature and success of these attempts to extend democracy. It asks, in particular, whether the culture of a robust civil society on which democracy relies can be successfully exported and what challenges it faces from more traditional social relationships.

Affiliations: 1: School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of New South Wales, Canberra ACT 2600, Australia, Email:


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