The authors discuss the idea of civil society, review differing attitudes about it, and discuss concerns about using it as a tool of public policy. Their principal focus is on civil society and its potential role in the dynamics of poor communities. They review the debates over the roles of state and the individual in fostering public good and discuss the expansion of civil society at the local level. Included are examples of the idea in action, which illustrate emerging efforts that are reshaping ideas and expectations concerning the role of the individual in community improvement.
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