Civil Society in Society SANJAY KUMAR Articles by Gurpreet Mahajan (1999a, 1999b) and Andre Beteille (1999) have done well to initiate a discussion on civil society and its relationship to democracy, state and citizenship. However, both these authors discuss civil society and associated concepts only as normative ideals of the liberal ideology and do not situate them in concrete social contexts. From the perspective of their ideology they decry what does not approach their ideal, but their presentations have little explanatory significance as they are of no help in understanding the way things are. The various avatars of civil society discussed by Mahajan are varied meanings that different authors ranging from a liberal Locke to third world Marxists have attributed to this term. The real avatars of civil society are, however, not these different meanings, but actual civil societies that have emerged world over with the spread of liberal ideology and polity. That different social contexts would give rise to different types of civil societies, which again would be interpreted differently by different authors, is completely missed by Mahajan.