Introduction Globalisation processes have made it necessary to conduct a general reassessment of the political vocabulary typical of Western modernity, and to reconsider categories such as those of state, borders, and territory. Among the conceptual tools of Western modernity, that of civil society has enjoyed renewed attention in recent decades, especially since the momentous events of 1989. At present, civil society is widely recognised as a key actor in global governance, and a key factor for democratisation in both domestic politics and the still developing global public space (Armstrong et al. 2004; see Introduction in this volume). This chapter focuses on the question of whether a stronger role for civil society in global governance would automatically translate into the democratisation of a post-national public space. Moving on from an analysis of the different models of civil society, the chapter will criticise some current assumptions about its role and function in a globalising world. It will then proceed to question the prevalent definition of global civil society as the whole of public interest groups or, in a narrower sense, all organisations sharing core values such as justice, a respect for difference, and human rights. This chapter argues that identifying civil society simply with the voice of the voiceless, or as the point of origin of communicative power, does not help to understand the profound transformations occurring in this second modernity. The chapter aims to defend the claim that civil society must be analysed not only as a space that needs to be protected from political power, but also as a space where new forms of power – not purely communicative – are developed and exercised, within the overall framework of postnational governance. For this reason, the chapter includes a short section on the specific functioning of civil society within the EU, as the European polity illustrates the processes of transforming democracy. It addresses the question of how civil society interacts with the new forms of political and social power that are typical of the second modernity, and whether it may be conducive to a sort of post-democratic governance rather than to a genuine democratisation of postnational spaces.