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   Course Title    Legal Aspects of Civic Society
Lecturer    Vahagn Piliposyan
Institution    Yerevan State University
Country    Armenia


After the collapse of the former Soviet Union Armenia as the other ex-Soviet Republics faced the challenges: political, social-economic, spiritual. Armenian society made a commitment to undertake the only civilised way for its future development-way to the democratic and civic society and the market economy.

The consequent reforms in legislation and social-economic policy were the main basis for democratic state to insure the success of the transition of the market economy.

The ongoing reforms in all spheres should insure the mainstreaming of civic education approach into national policy, legislation and programs, awareness of government key officials and the community.

A large number of people and social groups are unaware of fundamental human rights and freedoms and fundamental aspects of civic society and do not have appropriate or enough access to information sources.

The attitude towards democracy may be improved by training, educational and information activities aimed at the filling in the lack of knowledge and eliminating the misperception of rules, goals and aims of civic society.

The start of this work is necessary first of all for students, who are the future specialists of the 21st Century. The organisation of civic education program will help us establish a more democratic developed society, and with the frames of civic education program to make the legal aspects of the civic society available to the masses.

Contrary to a traditional approach in the Armenian high educational institutions to civil society as political sciences' theme, the particular course is focused on considering civil society as a juridical, legal term by its nature. This approach reflects concerns of the majority of contemporary writers on the subject (Cohen, Hueglin, Rau, Young, Jacobs, etc.) Through civil society discourse we are dealing with the core problems of desirable legislation order, citizenship, state, relationships between individual and community, morality and legality. An important shift in recent analysis of civil society also makes it more juridical

The course is designed primarily for the students of the law departments of host universities. Their background knowledge includes an introductory and intermediate course and special courses on legal theories of civic society and contemporary western theories.

There have not been such courses in the host universities and it is new subject for the students. The host universities have agreed to include this program in their curriculum for the next 4 years. Constitution of the Republic of Armenia states that we are building an open, legal and civic country, so the study of the legal aspects of civic society becomes a very important issue on the road to developing an open civic society. I have studied these aspects and I have published monographs on that subject, which I will make use of during the lectures.


The overall aim of the course is to introduce students to the idea and legal aspects of civil society as developed from eighteen century by different traditions and reconsidered by contemporary thinkers due to the radical legal shifts in contemporary world. Its specific objectives are:

Historical and comparative legal analyses and comments of origins and development of civil society concept (Aristotle, Althusius, Lock, Hegel, Hobbes, Marx and etc.); its continuation in liberal, socialist, Marxist, and neo-Marxist strands (Tocqueville, Habermas, Arato, Hueglin, Rau, Young, and Cohen); and recent challenging of the dominant models by contemporary social and legal theorists (Ehrlich, Anderson, Inglehart, Alexander, Walzer, Jacobs, Hann and etc.).

Exploration of the relevance and implications of the theory of civil society for the resolution of the problems of late-twentieth-century societies.

Developing student's own skills in theoretical and practical reasoning of the civil society issues in the context of realities and needs of the ex-Soviet societies and Eastern and Central European countries.


"Legal Aspects of Civic Society" course pursues a goal of revealing essential legal and philosophical issues important for our republic in transition and of delivering them to students. It consists of eight topics, which include major issues related to the legal aspects and principles of civil society. A list of reading is attached to the course program as guidance for students' theoretical and practical classes.

Talking about the major issue of legal principles of civil society we should understand that it does not imply a pure repetition of the knowledge compiled from different subjects. It is developed into a new course, which incorporates thorough study of the major elements of civil society and discovery of new methods of integrated implementation of general theoretical and philosophical issues together with practical approaches of legal knowledge. Students will have an objective to enrich their legal knowledge with that of political society, rule of law, contemporary achievements of foreign legal, political and economic ideology, and to get acquainted with the reflection of modern legal and political thoughts in this particular field.

Throughout the course the critical changes of the last ten years in the world must be taken into account. Also, it should be acknowledged that today's students are the professionals of the twenty-first century, who must have a solid knowledge of the system of civil society.


Methodological Suggestions for "Legal Aspects of Civic Society" Course

The sole of the course is Christopher Columbus Langdell's "case method" and the comparison of the former with interpretation and comment of the legal method developed by the Continental European Legal Schools. The major reading for the course is from the Case book developed by the applicant of "Legal Aspects of Civic Society" course. However, additional reading material will be required from students, which will include original texts delivering different authors' (Aristotle, Althusius, Lock, Hegel, Hobbes, Marx, Tocqueville, Habermas, Arato, Hueglin, Rau, Young, Cohen, Ehrlich, Anderson, Inglehart, Alexander, Walzer, Jacobs, Hann, Nersisyants, Aleckseev, Kerimow, Lifshits and etc.) diverse points of view on civil society. Every class will be followed by a set of questions so that the students can deeper understand the topic. The theory part will be mostly devoted to the study of different aspects and elements of legal principles of civil society. The practical part will follow the seminar classes plan according to which the students will compare their theoretical knowledge with the original texts and try to analyse it enlarging their knowledge of different aspects of civil society. In fact, a two-fold approach of conducting debate classes will be used: revealing each student's ability to work on his/her own, an effort will be made to make them work as a team. For this purpose, they will be divided into small three to five member groups, which will, periodically, participate at competition debates where each group will have a leader who will express the group's opinion, activities and conducted research. Thus, "Socrates method" will be exploited which implies to drag students into debates around the topic discussed.

The exams will be conducted at the last class of each month and the student will get his/her final grade automatically at the end of the term. In case the student disagrees with his/her final grade he/she will have to take a final examination test. The final test will be composed of five questions, which will require the knowledge of both lectures and of personal practical conclusions.

Level and approximate number of students: approximate 150 3rd and 4th year students of baccalaureate from all the host universities together.


Lectures and Seminars Course Plan

(132 hours=88 hours lectures+44 hours practical works)

Lectures 88 hours.

  • Theme 1. Introduction to the course.
  • Theme 2. Early theories of civic society and legal state. /Aristotle, Althusius, Lock, Hegel, Hobbes/
  • Theme 3. Civic society: content, structure and fundamental characteristics.
  • Theme 4. Legal state: content, structure and fundamental characteristics.
  • Theme 4. Legal state as an important institution of civic society.
  • Theme 5. Main analogies and distinctions of civic society and legal state.
  • Theme 6. Political-juridical regime and civic society. Public participation and civic society.
  • Theme 7. Civic Society in Liberal Social-Political, Economic and Legal Context
  • Theme 8. New revival of civic society legal concept: contribution of Eastern and post-Soviet lawyers /Nersisyants, Aleckseev, Kerimov and etc./ and Western neo-marxists and liberals. (Ehrlich, Anderson, Inglehart, Alexander, Walzer, Jacobs, Hann and etc.).
Seminar topics, (44 hours (including 32 hours seminars and 12 hours of disputes)).
  1. Early theories of civic society and legal state. /Aristotle, Althusius, Lock, Hegel, Hobbes/
  2. Legal state-civic society: distinctions and analogies.
  3. Civic Society: analyses of the legislative and normative approach.
  4. Building difficulties of civic society.
  5. Open society, democracy and civic society: analogies and distinctions.
  6. Post-communistic and post-socialistic societies of Eastern and Central Europe and CIS.
  7. The Role of Political Parties and NGOs in civic society: discourses and development. Public participation and civic society.
  8. Modern theories on civic society. (Nersisyants, Aleckseev, Kerimov, Ehrlich, Anderson, Inglehart, Alexander, Walzer, Jacobs, Hann and etc.).
Disputes Topics (12 hours)
  1. Republic of Armenia: a way for building legal state and civic society.
  2. Constitution of the Republic of Armenia and civic society.
  3. Open Society: Fallibility and Reflexivity.



  1. "Civil Society-Theory, History, Comparison", Ed. by John A.Hall, 1995
  2. John Martinussen, ""Society, State and Market" a Guide to Competing Theories of Development", 1996,
  3. John D. Nagle and Alison Mahr, "Democracy and Democratization", 1999,
  4. "Toward a Global Civil Society", Ed. by Michael Walzer, 1998,
  5. Darrow Schecter, ""Soveregn States or Political Communities?-Civil Society and Contemporary Politics", 2000,
  6. Peter de Cruz, "Comparative Law-in a Changing World", 1999.
  7. Cohen, Jean L., and Arato, Andrew (1992), Civil Society and Poli-tical Theory (Cambridge: MIT Press).
  8. Aleckseev S., (1998), General Theory of State and Law, Moscow, in Russian
  9. Hegel, G.W.F. [1821], Elements of the Philosophy of Right (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991).
  10. Hill, Christopher (1980), The Century of Revolution 1603-1714 (New York: Norton).
  11. Hobbes, Thomas [1651], Leviathan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991).
  12. Nersisyants V.S., (1999), General Theory of State and Law, Moscow, in Russian
  13. Rau, Zbigniew (ed.) (1991), The Reemergence of Civil Society in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union (Boulder: WestView Press).
  14. Rawls, John (1971), A Theory of Justice (Cambridge: Harvard University Press).
  15. Soros, George (2000), The Crisis of Global Capitalism /Open Society Endangered/ , (Yerevan, "Nairi" Publishing House), in Armenian
  16. Soros, George, (1999), The Alchemy of Finance /Reading the Mind of the Market/, (Moscow, Infra-M), in Russian.


Althusius, Johannes [1603/14], Politica Methodice atque exemplis sacris & profanis illustrata (Aalen: Scientia, 1961).
Anderson, Charles W. (1990), Pragmatic Liberalism (Chicago: Uni-versity of Chicago Press).
Aristotle, The Politics (Harmondsworth: Pengiun, 1981).
Bahro, Rudolf (1980), in Rudolf Barho, Ernest Mandel and Peter von Oertzen, Was da alles aufuns zukommit (Berlin: Olle & Wolter).
Bell, Daniel (1978), The Cultural Contradiction of Capitalism (New York: Basic Books).
Bendix, Reinhard (1978), Kings or People (Berkeley: University of California Press).
Beyme, Klaus von (1980), "The Politics of Limited Pluralism? The Case of West Germany", in Stanislaw Ehrlich and Graham Wootton (eds.),
Three Faces of Pluralism (Westmead: Gower), pp. 80-102.
Bobbio, Norberto (1987), Which Socialism? (Minneapolis: Universi-ty of Minnesota Press).
Bodin, Jean [1576], Six Livres de la Republique (Paris).
Bowles, Martin (1967), Der utopische Sozialismus (Koeln: J.Heg-ner).
Buchanan, Allen E. (1982), Marx and Justice: The redical Critique of Liberalism (Totowa: Rowman and Littlefield).
Cohen, Jean L. (1982), Class and Civil Society: The Limits of Marxian Critical Theory (Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press).
Cunningham, Frank (1987), Democratic Theory and Socialism (Camb-ridge: Cambridge University Press).
Ehrlich, Stanislaw (1980), "Pluralism amd Marxism", in Stanislaw Ehrlich and Graham Wootto (eds.), Three Faces of Pluralism (Westmead: Gower), pp. 34-45.
Ehrlich, Stanislaw (1982), Pluralism On and Off Course (Oxford: Pergamon Press).
Freidrich, Carl J. (1975), Johannes Althusius und sein Werk im Rahmen der Entwichung der Theorie von der Politik (Berlin: Buncker & Humblot).
Hueglin, Thomas O. (1991), Sozietaler Foederalismus: Die Politische Theorie des Johannes Althusius (Berlin: Wal-ter de Gruyter).
Hueglin, Thomas O. (1992), "Have We Studied Wrong Aut-hors? On the Revelance of Johannes Althusius," (Studies in Political Thought 1,1; pp.75-93).
Hueglin, Thomas O. (1993), "Johannes Althusius and the Morden Consept of Civil Society," forthcoming in Adolf Bibic and Luigi Graziano (eds.), Civil Society, Political Society, Democracity (Ljubjana, Slovenia).
Hueglin, Thomas O. (1994), "Subsidiarity, Federalism, and the European Tradition," paper, ECSA World Conference, Brussels, May.
Inglehart, Ronald (1977), The Silent Revolution (Prin-cetone: Princetone University Press). Keane, John (1988), Democracity and the Civil Society (London: Verso).
Locke, John [1688], Two Treaties of Government (Camb-ridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988).
Macpherson, C.B. (1962), The Political Theory of Pos-sessive Individualism: Hobbes to Locke (London: Clarendon Press).
Marx, Carl [1846], "The German Ideology: Part I," in Robert C. Tucker (ed.), The Marx-Engels Reader (New York: Norton, 1978).
Marx, Carl [1848], "Manifesto ot the Communist Party," in Robert C. Tucker (ed.), The Marx-Engels Reader (New York: Norton, 1978).
Mill, John Stuart [1859], "On Liberty," in On Liberty and other Essays (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991).
Mouffe, Chantal (1992), "Preface: Democratic Politics Today," in Chantal Mouffe (ed.), Dimensions of Radical De-mocracy (London: Verso).
Nersisyants V.S. (1998), Philoshophy of Law. Moscow, in Russian,
Panitch, Leo (1993), "A Different Kind of State"? in Gregory Albo, David Langille and Leo Panitch (eds.), A Dif-ferent Kinde of State? Popular Power and Democratic Admi-nistration (Toronto: Oxford University Press), pp. 2-16.
Poguntke, Thomas (1993), Alternative Politics: The Ger-man Green Party (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press).
Walzer, Michael (1992), "The Civil Society Argument," in Chantal Mouffe (ed.), Dimensions of Radical Democracy (London: Verso), pp. 89-107.
Young, Iris M. (1990), Justice and the Politics of Dif-ference (Princetone: Princetone

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