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State-Civil Society

Discuss about the Relationship Between State and Civil Society.

In this paper we state the importance of state society synergy, and also state the ways through which we can bridge the differences between government bodies and local communities. It is better to identify relationship between government involvement and private cooperative efforts instead of assuming that there is no relationship between the two. It is clear that active government and local communities can enhance the development efforts of each other if they work together.

Civil society has power to leave positive effect on state institutions, and they also have power to influence the decision of the government on public policy, and in this paper we state the relationship between civil society and state. We state the role of no government organizations and how they monitor the activities of state institutions and also state the accountability of state institutions towards government. We also state different ways which can improve the relation between these two important organizations (NCBI, n.d.).

In this essay we identify different forms and sources of state- society synergy. First we state the theoretical concept of state-civil society, and then focus on ways which can bridge the gap between these two. There are some other aspects also which need to discussed in this paper. At lat essay is concluded with brief conclusion.

In political sociology, relationship between state and civil society is the key issue, and in this part of the essay we discuss three theoretical concepts of political sociology for the purpose of analyzing this relationship that is Marxism theory, elite theory, and pluralism. These theories are developed from the perspective of liberalism. Therefore, first we state the brief overview of the liberal perspective on state-civil relationship.

From liberal perspective state serves civil society and they are accountable towards the citizens of the state through political representation. The main functions of the state are to maintain social order in the society and protect the society from external threats. As per liberals state is defined as neutral arbiter between conflicting interests and no section of society can dominate the state, but they can pursue policy which maximizes the liberty of individual (Khan, n.d.).

According to DFID state-society relationship means communication related to negotiation on public authority and how this authority is influenced by people between state bodies, local communities which represent society and other societal groups. These communications mainly focus on those issues which define both rights and obligations of the state institutions and society, and also discuss on allocation of public resources and various methods of representation of facts and accountability of the institution (DFID, 2010).

Structure of Synergistic Relations

The actual focus is not on some specific forms of institution but it is on relationship between the government institutions and civil institutions. It is clear neither state nor civil society acting in isolates and they both need support of each other for better development in the country. State can derive its legitimacy by interacting with citizens and participation of civil institutions.

As per Citizenship Development Research Centre, citizen is defined as an individual who has various rights against other persons and responsibilities which he own to others persons in the civil institutions and state institutions also. This definition states the relationship between not only citizen and state but with those also who are living within the borders of the state (Benequista, 2010, p. 4). Citizens have number of benefits such as they have right to live their nationality, to cast vote in the state, and they can also participate in process related to politics. They have right to access education, health, and other facilities provided by state such as access to labor market, own business,  own land and other properties, and right of basic necessities.

There is great impact of political settlements on the relation between state and civil society. For example, there are many states which are affected by conflicts and inn these states relations are affected by patronage as well as lack of accountability.              

There are many political personalities whose source of income are    natural resources and some kind of criminal activities, and they have very less benefit to involve with the citizens of the state and established public authority which is effective. Such concentration of power in few hands limits the citizen participation in development of country. There are some situations in which citizens are excluded from public life because of violence and state repression. This reflects weak relation between state and society. It is clear from above theories that efforts made to promote right political settlement can re-shape the relations and also helps in positive transformation of politics and society.

Usually, government focusing on state building by building the capacity of institutions working on central and state level, but it is necessary to pay equal attention on civil society and also increase the engagement of citizens in system so that they are able to make the state accountable and responsive towards society. In case of both donations and other funding, money is directed to both the institutions that are state and civil society institutions then these interventions are compartmentalized and based on state civil divide which is tradition in the state.

Bridge gap between state-civil societies

Strategies and policies framed for this purpose clearly need focus on the communication between state institutions and civil society at all stages (GSDRC, n.d.).

Generally, building of relations between groups of civil society and governments include various forms such as simple dichotomy which is used to define the synergy between government and civil society and also difference between complementarily and embeddings. These two words not only define different forms of synergy but also state the connections between the idea of synergyand previous theories related to relations between public and private institutions.

Complementarilyis a way which is conventional in nature and conceptualize the mutually supportive relation between state and civil society. It states the importance of division of labor based on the properties of state and society institutions. Governments are delivering number of goods which complement inputs delivered by private sectors, and putting these both inputs with each other will definitely result in best outcome which isbetter than the outcome delivered by public and private sectors separately. This concept suited to the current situation of institutions and encourages the collaboration of public and private sectors.

On the other hand, synergy based on embeddednessstates that it is novel to connect citizens and public officials on divide of public and private level (Evans, n.d.).

The main aim of peace lovers or peace builders is to mobilize the support from politics for the purpose of constructive actions to address some specific conflicts and their causes. Civil institutions like NGOs play important role by sharing information, make arguments, and contribute energy for the purpose of influencing decision making process. These institutions directly communicate with the policy makers or with those who influence the policy making process. These institutions are very important because they identify the problems and policy gaps, analyzing issues and also recommend solutions. In short, they identify the main problems which can be result in conflict and need to be identified for the purpose of solving these issues in peaceful manner (Manor, 1999).

Civil groups analyze the current situation of the society, and on the basis of their findings they formulate recommendations, develop different options for policy, and also communicate with policy makers for the purpose of avoiding conflicts. They are able to mobilize advocacy campaigns under which they generate political will against the policy makers and also implement different strategies for achieving the desired results. These capacities are used to influenced both policy framed by governments and national legislation. While civil societies canalso force parliament and government for introducing new laws that may be address the causes of conflict or create new strategies for solving the issues in peaceful manner, and also it is common for them to engage in processes with government for the better development of the country. The gap between government officials and civil society can be fulfilled by various methods and for bridging this gap both institutions work together for developing frameworks related to policy and developing action plans to implement them:

1. Exchange necessary information with each other, analyze the issues which lead to conflicts, and find possible solutions for them.
2. Formulating the directions of complete policy, and also specify the objectives related to policy.
3. Make strategies and formulate different procedures for the effective implementation of policy.
4.Raise awareness and arrange advocacy campaigns to generate political will for the purpose of adoption of new policy or agenda which is beneficial for public (Tosun & Tosun, n.d.).

Policy development in any developing country is complex process and civil societies play important role in identifying policy challenges. They generate awareness in public for creating pressure on government to get accurate response, and they also communicate with government officials, parliament members, and other civil servants for raising issues with public and these institutions also recommend various steps to solve these issues.

There are number of departments in government which already consult civil institutions before making any policy, and also send draft papers for public consultation before these papers are adopted by the government as official policy (Barnes, 2006).

In past, gap between citizens and state is reduced in different ways such as attention was given on strengthening the process of participation. In this method poor people communicate with government and present their points through new inclusions, consultation, and mobilization which are designed to inform and influence the government institutions. On other side, institutions pay attention on strengthen the accountability or responsiveness of government institutions and also on policies to change the design of institution.  Each perspective make other perspective inadequate because consultation without political power is like voice which has no influence and other perspective is inadequate because changing the design on government institution without consultation will only lead to status quo (Cornwall & Gaventa, n.d.).

Policy development in Bangladesh:  NGO activities in the Bangladesh are on highest concentrations and they have rich history. In other words we can also say that this country is the home of NGO activities in the world. History of civil society in this country is very important because activities conducted by civil organizations have deep relation with the history. In Bangladesh, Civil Society and its activities are originated from the time of independence, and there are number of civil organizations were formed for the purpose of conducted struggle against Pakistan. From last two decades, NGO in Bangladesh is working in the favor of service delivery programs and they abandoned many efforts which are conducting earlier for social mobilization and community activism. Therefore, it is seen by number of people that many represent the depoliticisation of NGO will result in erosion of democracy (Ahmed, n.d.).

There is strong influence of country’s turbulent political history on relations between civil society and government. In previous time repression from government play important role in framing the policies related to NGO in Bangladesh, and now there are many contends who state that civil society in country lacks the autonomous oppositional character which must need to deal with the state institutions and other political elite. There are two major political parties who unofficially control the unions of workers, business associations, and groups of students. They also control the newspapers and because of this Civil society is not able to exert the strength which is necessary to influence the decision of state institutions related to public policy. There are very few civil organizations which are actively engaged in working with the poorest (Interactions, n.d.).

Contribution of Civil Society to good governance and development of state is analyzed with the interest taken by civil institutions in government process for the purpose of influence the policy made by state institutions. While doing these things they try to develop the relation of trust between public servants that is member of state institutions and ordinary citizens. As we already stated above not all the civil institutions are connected with state institutions for encouraging better governance. Some civil institutions are achieving their self-centered goals in the veil of good governance or by organizing violent events against the state and other organized groups, and other groups try to evade themselves from the formal structures of state through different forms of collective action in the informal economy. Therefore we summarize the contribution of civil society in good governance in four categories that is public policy and decision making, enhancing state performance, transparency and information, and social justice and the rule of law (IDSFORD, n.d.).Following are some issues stated in brief between state and Civil:

  • Democratization:In recent years, there is hype of the concept of democratization which result in dramatic change in both political as well as institutional environment in which society operates. There are number of cases in which civil societies are used by opposition parties against the authoritarian governments, and in some other cases civil societies was not participated actively in politics and kept distance with political issues. Civil societies are there in which values of societies and democratic engagement are not there and these groups only use their status for achieving their self-centered goals. These groups even arise unnecessary conflicts with government (Demarco, 2008).
  • Reforms of political structures: democratization also change the reform structure of civil institutions or also create many new structures which represent democracy. These changes includes constitutional re-design, decentralization of power under local government, and also create many formal procedures through which general public can access policy making structure of government and also influence it. These activities can provide space for civil society organizations to e into new activities, improve their relations with government officials and political representatives (Kopstein & Chambers, 2009).


There at last we conclude that these changes stated above are only small part of the story which describe the concept briefly. The main aim of state and civil synergy was to develop fair and good governance in the state and also build relation of trust between the government and citizens of the state. These institutions not only create the accountability of the state but also influence the policy making of government.


Khan, Z. Relationship between State and Civil Society. Retrieved on 16th February 2017 from:

DFID, (2010). Building Peaceful States and Societies: A DFID Practice Paper’, Department for International Development, London.

Benequista, N. (2010). Putting Citizens at the Centre: Linking States and Societies for Responsive Governance. Sunningdale, UK.

GSDRC. State-society relations: overview. Retrieved on 16th February 2017 from:

Evans, P. Government action, social capital anddevelopment: reviewing the evidence onsynergy. Retrieved on 16th February 2017 from:

Cornwall, A. & Gaventa, J. Bridging the gap: citizenship,participation and accountability. Retrieved on 16th February 2017 from:

Barnes, C. (2006). Governments & CivilSociety Organisations:Issues in Working

Together Towards Peace. Retrieved on 16th February 2017 from:

Manor, J. (1999). Civil Society and Governance. Retrieved on 16th February 2017 from:

Tosun, T. & Tosun, g. E. Bridging the gap between local governments and citizens: do web sites matter for creating governance? Some observations on turkish local governments. Retrieved on 16th February 2017 from:

IDSFORD. Civil Society And Governance. Retrieved on 16th February 2017 from:

Kopstein, J. & Chambers, S. (2009). Civil Society and the State. Retrieved on 16th February 2017 from:

Demarco, L. (2008). The difference between civil and civic. Retrieved on 16th February 2017 from:

Ahmed, S. The Civil Society of Bangladesh: Depoliticized in working Agenda but politicized in power relation. Retrieved on 16th February 2017 from:

Interations. Social, economic and political context in Bangladesh. Retrieved on 16th February 2017 from:

NCBI, (2009). Civil Society, Health, and Social Exclusion in Bangladesh. Retrieved on 16th February 2017 from:

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