Civil society/Debate Guide

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The notion of debate with its opposing sides (affirmative and negative) is often seen as a partisan idea in the context of civil society. The following are offered as questions for discussion or debate:

• Are the terms civil society and nonprofit sector synonymous?
• Are nonprofit organizations that are fully funded by government part of civil society?
• What role do foundations play in advancing civil society?
• Another related question is the relation between state and government.
• Is U.S. civil society experiencing genuine declines in civic participation and deteriorating civil society as Robert Putnam's research suggests? The experts disagree.
• If, instead of a decline, U.S. civil society is experiencing a transformation as some have suggested, what changes are occurring and what implications do you see?
• One of the most basic issues in the social sciences (perhaps ranking up there with nature-nurture) is the question of the relation of state and society. Which is more fundamental? Which precedes which logically? Empirically? Historically? Can the two terms be defined separately?
• Some U.S. political theorists have suggested that the U.S. (as a "government of the people" does not (or cannot) have a political state distinguishable from U.S. society.