An important aspect about working in public service is that we are commuted to the greater good. Our work takes outside the traditional aspects of governmental or private sector work and places us on a path of working on behalf of the public. Our greatest concern for developing policy or implementing new programs for community development is the impact they have on the public good.
One of the most unique things about working for the public good is that we need to have an understanding of the other sectors. By being able to analyze our place within the other sectors we can better work to pass legislation, develop community organizations and engage with stake holders in other sectors to ensure community success. Another integral part is learning about our past, that is learning how the third sector developed, grew, and how that affected the public good and our place as a whole in society.
There has been a traditional dichotomy in political philosophy between the state and market. With the state providing law and governance and the market providing commerce and trade, there was little need for the ideation of a third sphere in society. However, neither institutional sphere grasps the depth of the public good nor how ingrained this ideology is in a free society.
“From the inception of political theory to twenty-first century reflections on democracy and the welfare state, the ideal of public good has consistently been linked to the sociomoral resource of civic spirit. This is so insofar as the ideal of the public good claims civic spirit from a society’s citizens, while the presence of civic spirit is an indispensable premise for any orientation toward public good.” (Munkler, H., & Fischer, K. (2001). Public Good, The: Cultural Concerns. International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, 12526-12530)
The public good is a circular idea in which the civic spirit of a society feeds the public good, while the beneficial outcome – that being the active and productive self-interest of citizens – renews the society’s civic spirit. By examining the ongoing discussion of Civil Society in the modern era, we can conclude that in the realm of civic service – in the realm of working for the public good – the interests of citizens are best cared for by those serving in Civil Society. Through the exploration of Tocqueville’s free associations and their propagation of self-interested citizens to the pluralistic virtue of a democratic society, we will be able to extrapolate why Civil Society best advocates for the public good.
-Excerpt from: Civil Society: Advocating the Public Good by Jeffrey Ryan