Two Approaches to Civil Society

Prof. Robert Hugh Layton
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Civil society as an ideal has been advocated by writers such as Gellner and Tester; referring to democratic institutions that counter-balance the power of the State without disrupting society. I argue that it is preferable to charactise civil society in terms of the actual institutions that come between the household and the state, regardless of whether they promote cohesion or discord. An evolutionary approach such as game theory allows us to analyse why some societies are stable and others riven by ethnic or kinship-based factions without prejudging whether such conditions are 'barbaric' or 'primordial'.

Keywords: Civil Society, Social Order, Scope of Social Anthropology
Stream: Anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural Studies, Humanities
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Prof. Robert Hugh Layton

Head of Department, Anthropology Department, University of Durham
Durham, County Durham, UK

I hold B.Sc. and M.Phil degrees in Anthropology from University College Durham, and a D.Phil in Anthropology from the University of Sussex. My D.Phil was based on field research into social change in Franche-Comte, Eastern France; research that I have continued intermittently up to the mid 1990, resulting in the book 'Anthropology and history in Franche-Comte', Oxford U.P. 2000. From 1974 to 1981 I worked in Australia for the Institute of Aboriginal and Rorres Straits Islander Research, and for the Northern Aboriginal land Council in Darwin. Numerous publications have resulted, including my 1986 book, 'Uluru: an Aboriginal History of Ayers Rock.' Since 1982 I have worked in the Anthropology Department at Durham, where my interests have broadened to cover general issues in Anthropological Theory: see 'In Intropduction to Theory in Anthropology' (CUP 1997) and 'Order and Anarchy' (CUP 2006).

Ref: I07P0386