A study of the various meanings associated with the term “civil society” – how the different uses of the term evolved historically down to the present time. The course will also discuss the different constituent elements of civil society, its institutions, conditions for its (continued) existence and the connection between the concept and certain others, such as citizenship, nationalism, and democracy. Also to be dealt with is the function which the concept has been made to serve in Arab and international contexts, with reference to Palestine during the last three decades, and how the concept acquired symbolic status in the struggle against authoritarian Arab states.