What does Civil Society mean to you?

Participants of the Paris Thinking Lab Summit talk about what "Civil Society" means to them.

Photo: Alex&Jacob/ Das Progressive Zentrum, 2017.

As the Thinking Lab Summit in Paris was a meeting of members of Civil Society, Orange Magazine wondered, what “Civil Society” means to the participants. Is it a universal definition or rather personal term?

Civil society activists gathered in Paris during the European Thinking Lab Summit. They got to discuss four important topics that challenge the European project – Populism, Sustainable Growth, Social Cohesion, and Migration & Integration – to develop some practical policies to improve the EU. As the participants suggested their approaches toward each theme, they also showed different views on civil society. Is it a universal definition, or a personal term? Orange tried to find out.

Paulo Henrique Kalkhake, MPP Candidate at Hertie School of Governance:

“Civil society is an important European project, and I am happy that so many people are involved and are active in it. However, I see a danger here because it mostly unites likeminded people, so there is a threat of developing some sort of inclusive bubble. Some organizations try to break it, but not all. I also see lack of political agenda as a threat because civil society organizations and groups need to become more influencing and push for their goals.”

Sophie Pornschlegel, board member at Polis180:

“For me, civil society means having a public, which organizes politically. It is about engaging people.”

Kassandra Becker, Managing director at Polis180:

“Civil society goes beyond caring for something privately, but about organizing a community.”


(by Anna Romandash and Demetrios Pogkas)

This story was published by Orange Magazine, which has been created by the European Youth Press (EYP) to provide journalistic education and to support young journalists by giving them room to explore media and current affairs. For more information about this edition, please visit: