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Civil Society in China: Concepts, Classification and Institutional Environment

Yu Keping  
This article provides a comparison and differentiation of such concepts as civil society, the third sector, institutional environment, civil society organizations(CSOs or minjian zuzhi), non-government organizations(NGOs), non-profit organizations(NPOs), intermediate organizations(zhongjie zuzhi), social associations or mass groups(qunzhong tuanti), social groups(shehui tuanti)and people's groups(renmin tuanti). The author offers suggestions in the classification of private organizations(minjian zuzhi) in China from the perspectives of scholarly research and administrative management. The focus is on analysis of the main characteristics of the current institutional environment of Chinese civil society. As the author points out in his analysis, the institutional environment of civil society in contemporary China is characterized by the coexistence of encouragement at the macro-level and restriction at the micro-level; registration at different levels and dual management; dual management and multiple management; government regulations and Party policies; institutional redundancy and institutional deficiencies; and the co-existence of real space and institutional space.
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