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From ’Parallel Society’ to Civil Society: Surfacing from authoritarianism
Södertörn University, Södertörn University Library.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7748-6174
2004 (English)In: Japanese Adult and Continuing Education Journal, ISSN 1343-3210, Vol. 6, no SpecialIssue, 5-20 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

De Tocqueville' tripartite structure (state - political society - civil society) could not be found in societies governed by authoritarian communist regimes in the twentieth century. Citizens of “a partocratic and mythocratic state that embraced every walk of life” had yet to find their place. The concept of the ‘parallel society’ was outlined by the Czech philosopher Václav Benda in late 1970s. He maintained that even a gentle form of opposition could, in due time, undermine the communist regime's omnipotent control over society. The goal of the parallel polis was “taking over… every space that state power has temporarily abandoned or which it has never occurred to it to occupy in the first place”. The institutions of a parallel society were to undertake long-lasting work for the building of democracy, rather than plan for any immediate mobilization against authoritarian regimes. The already existing elements of civil society challenged state institutions at the grass-roots' level. It required quite an extensive amount of work and much effort to cope with a multitude of different tasks. A parallel society needed specialists able to compose curricula and syllabi for underground educational courses; people competent in printing technology to publish hundreds of illegal journals and books as well as those who were committed enough to risk their freedom in order to distribute illegal publications; others who provided refuge or help for the persecuted, who acted as hosts to printing houses or offered their apartments for classes, courses and public lectures. All this led to the building up of various communities of citizens which although limited in terms of their numbers, were nevertheless very committed, and which took the lead in public opinion formation

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2004. Vol. 6, no SpecialIssue, 5-20 p.
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies) History
Research subject
Baltic and East European studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-8550OAI: diva2:417028
Available from: 2011-05-14 Created: 2011-05-14 Last updated: 2015-07-17Bibliographically approved

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Bron Jr, Michal
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