Civilsamfund eller social kapital?

  • Lars Hulgård


Lars Hulgård: Civil Society or Social Capital? An institutional critique of theories of civil society inspired by Habermas and Putnam. There have been two main approaches to theory about the relations between civil society and democracy and the welfare state. One is the approach by Habermas that emphasizes the role of the public sphere as mediator between civil society and representative democracy. The other is an approach inspired by Putnam that emphasizes the importance of social capital. Putnam focuses on how civil involvement and voluntary associations raise the effectiveness of institutions in modern society. Both approaches have met with considerable criticism from different points of view. However the article argues that a similar criticism can be made of both approaches although they seem so different. It argues that the crucial challenge is to include an institutional perspective in whichever perspective one employs in the study the status of civil society as a democratic or welfare impulse in modern society. The article reviews the various criticisms of the two approaches and shows how an institutional perspective can be employed to both approaches.