The term Zivilgesellschaft is the German translation of ‘civil society.’ It has established itself as the common term for the heterogenous collective actors in the public space and is used worldwide today. However, what exactly the term describes and where it derives its theoretical basis from, is disputed. In recent years, the Maecenata Institute has endeavoured to develop and promote a consistent, workable working definition. This was based on a synthesis of different definitional approaches and an internationally compatible classification.
However, this is by no means the end of the debate about a theory of civil society, nor should it be. Rather, this debate should be deliberately continued in a series of colloquia.