Against the bleak backdrop of pressing issues in today’s world, civil societies remain vibrant, animated by people’s belief that they should and can solve such issues and build a better society. Their imagination of a good society, their understanding of their engagement, and the ways they choose to act constitute the cultural aspect of civil society.

Central to this cultural aspect of civil society is the “culture of democracy,” including normative values, individual interpretations, and interaction norms pertaining to features of a democratic society, such as civility, independence, and solidarity. The culture of democracy varies in different contexts and faces challenges, but it shapes civic actions, alters political and social processes, and thus is the soul of modern civil societies.

The Culture of Democracy: A Sociological Approach to Civil Society (Polity Press, 2022) provides the first systematic survey of the cultural sociology of civil society and offers a committed global perspective. It shows that, as everyone is eager to have their voice heard, cultural sociology can serve as an “art of listening,” a thoroughly empirical approach that takes ideas, meanings, and opinions seriously, for people to contemplate significant theoretical and public issues.

Rituparna Patgiri is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Indraprastha College for Women, University of Delhi. She has a PhD in Sociology from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. Her research interests lie in the areas of food, media, gender and public. She is also one of the co-founders of Doing Sociology. Patgiri can be reached at @Rituparna37 on Twitter.

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