Document Type


Publication Date



"Civil society" is now the defining map of our civic life. Embedded in its framework are assumptions about the activity of the citizen and the meaning of democracy. The idea of civil society today vividly illustrates the power of framing concepts to structure resources and define political themes. Major foundations have divisions of civil society that allocate hundreds of millions of dollars to volunteer activity. Government agencies give time off to their employees so that they can "do citizenship." Presidents gathered last year at the Summit on Volunteerism to praise the idea. Meanwhile, a coalition organized by "end of work" theorist Jeremy Rifkin has signed up educational organizations, teachers unions, and philanthropic groups to advocate, for community service as citizenship, and civil society as the site of active democracy.