Civic Education

Civil Society

Meaning and Examples of Civil Society

Civil society refers to any non-governmental entity formed by a group of people with similar interests who come together to work on a common cause.

It is a society in which each individual is allowed to pursue their own separate interest, as long as it does not harm anyone else.

Civil society usually refers to life outside the home / family (Globalized community) usually a nation with a distinct form of Government.

Civil Society is the aggregate of non- governmental organizations and institutions that manifest interests and will of the citizens.

Civil society is usually referred to as the third sector of the society, where the first sector is the government, the second sector is the business and the third sector is the civil society. Civil societies are usually populated by organizations that are independent of the state; they are self reliant and self generating funds to some extent, such as registered charities, community groups, Professional associations, trade unions, self help group, media organizations, Faith based groups etc.

Qualities of Civil Societies

  1. Civil society is based on an individual freedom; force do not characterized civil society.
  2. Most of the activities of civil society take place locally at grass roots.
  3. The citizens organize activities and service for themselves and other people.
  4. Their desires are to learn but also to help others encourage many people to be active and participate in activities of the civil society.
  5. In civil society, activities are provided, services produced for members and customers in a non profit making i.e. in a charitable
  6. Civil society is able to adjust to the hopes, needs, and desires of people as well as the changes of the surrounding environment.
  7. Civil society receives their funding as general grants which left room for their own deliberation and decision making power.
  8. In civil society, people are at the same time actors and objects of action.

Problems of Civil Societies

Despite the influence civil societies have had on democracy and electoral promise particularly in Nigeria. They still have issues militating against the effective operation of the society.

These include;

1) Insufficient Funds: Most civil society relies on government for funds and this imply loyalty to government.

2) Political Control: The appointment of civil society leaders into political offices has also affected the character and ideology of such societies.

3) Corruption: The problem of corruption has also taken its toll on the civil society. Some of the leaders take it upon themselves to enrich their pockets by embezzling money meant for the organization.

4) Legal Restriction: Civil society groups are restricted to some extent in participation in government as government often makes laws to frustrate their efforts and operation.

5) Activities of some civil societies can incite the citizens against political authorities and can lead to political crisis and civil unrest.


  1. Define Civil Society.
  2. What are the qualities of civil societies?
  3. What are the problems of civil societies?

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