This new edition of Civil Society: The Critical History of an Idea provides a comprehensive discussion on and analysis of two and a half millennia of Western political theory, as well as what answer the future may hold for how civil society might be understood. John Ehrenberg analyzes both the usefulness and limitations of civil society, and maps the political and theoretical evolution of the concept and its employment in academic and public discourse. From Aristotle and the Enlightenment philosophers to Black Lives Matter and the Occupy movement, the book provides an indispensable analysis of the possibilities of what this increasingly important idea can, or cannot, offer to contemporary political affairs. Ehrenberg specifically considers how major events such as 9/11 and the global financial crisis, economic inequality, and rapidly advancing technologies alter and shape our relationship with contemporary civil society.Civic engagement, political participation, and volunteerism in contemporary life have faded, he argues, and to bring civil society—and all its virtues—back to the fore, we need to counter the suffocating inequality that has taken root in recent years. Thorough and accessible, Civil Society gives a sweeping overview of a foundational part of political life.