The Institute for the Study of Civil Society (CIVITAS) was launched early in 2000 as an independent registered charity (No. 1036909). It is politically non-partisan and is financed by private donations. It accepts no government funding.
The underlying purpose of CIVITAS is to deepen public understanding of the legal, institutional and moral framework that makes a free and democratic society possible. In particular, the goal of our studies is a better division of responsibilities between government and civil society. The term civil society is intended to emphasise that in social affairs the alternatives to government are not exhausted by commercial services alone. There are also mutual, church and charitable organisations, quite apart from the informal support of neighbours and within the family.
The Institute's research programme focuses on four areas: health, welfare, education and the family, each underpinned by a single unifying theme: deepening public understanding of the institutions, beliefs and values which are fundamental to a free and democratic society.
The balance between the powers of government and the liberties of the individuals and organisations that make up a society is never resolved and each generation must find its own solution. Today there are still areas where the realm of political decisions may have encroached too much onto the territory best left to the initiative of individuals freely co-operating in their own localities. This is the special domain of CIVITAS.
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