The separation between civil society and the state is a product of modernity that is centered in the dichotomy between the public and the private spheres. Liberalism is marked by this separation which has underlied challenges to the role of the sovereign state in the last decades, resulting from the rise of neo-liberalism embodied in the processes of economic globalization based on liberal ideas of free trade, free movement of capital, deregulation and privatization. In order to understand this issue, it is inquired how the separation between the concepts of civil society and the state took place and why it is at the origin of the contemporary challenge to the role of the sovereign state. As such, the origin and evolution of the concept of civil society since Aristotle is traced and it is evidenced that, after the Aristotelian conception, modernity produced two conceptions of civil society, a liberal on the one hand, and a Marxist on the other. They underlie the respective political-ideological currents, whose clashes in political praxis had as a result the prevalence of the liberal perspective. This prevalence is pointed out as one of the main factors underlying the contemporary challenge to the role of the sovereign state and, consequently, its recent crisis, its impact on the processes of globalization and the complexification of international life is demonstrated and the ways in which these contribute to the challenge of the role of the State are illustrated.
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