Available online now: From Author to Network: The Coming of Age of Civil Sphere Theory, by CCS Faculty Fellows Giuseppe Sciortino and Peter Kivisto, in the in the forthcoming special issue of Cultural Sociology on Civil Sphere Theory.
Abstract: This article argues that Jeffrey Alexander’s The Civil Sphere constitutes the first sociological theory of civil society, a theory with its own developmental history. That history includes the trajectory of Alexander’s career prior to his simultaneous turn to cultural sociology and civil society. The former led him to develop what he calls a ‘strong program,’ while the use of the term ‘civil sphere’ serves to distinguish his approach to civil society from other articulations, past and present. This includes viewing the theory as offering a more realistic understanding of the prospects for and impediments to liberal democracy. Conceived at the outset as an ongoing project, rather than the last word on the topic, we review how that project has shifted from the work of one prominent theorist to a global network of scholars.