The creation of a ’civil society ’ was a common rallying cry in the 1980s in the struggles against the communist regimes of Eastern Europe, uniting opponents of the regimes from many perspectives. The achievement of this civil society in the transitional nations of contemporary Eastern Europe has, however, become more problematic. On the one hand, it is clear that the phrase is ambiguous and with multiple meaning for multiple constituencies. On the other hand, there is concern that it is being used as shorthand for the ’marketiz-ation ’ of these societies by Western govern-ments and aid agencies. This article explores this complexity of ’cre-ating a civil society ’ in the context of Hungary. In particular it addresses three questions. These are about the nature of civil society in the transitional nations, about the role of vol-untary organizations in establishing such a civil society and about the relationship be-tween voluntary organizations and the state in this process
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