Civil society takes two main organizational forms

Civil society can be differentiated into:

The differences between these two types are significant. Click on each type to understand them in more detail. These two types of organization often interact. Financial and technical resources flow from NGOs to constituent groups, and NGOs sometimes join constituent groups in public lobbies. The boundaries between different types of groups may not always be well defined.

Where can I find out more?
Civil society can be differentiated in other ways, based on its composition, or on its functions. (See for example, a discussion on civil society at


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Defining civil society?
Civil society and the state

State and non-state:
a working possibility?

Interactive exercise