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The objective of this paper is to present the role of law in structuring and regulating the state- civil society relationship and the extent of the challenge globalization poses to this triangular relationship. While there are a number of different conceptualizations and formulations of the state- civil society relationship, it is only through a legal framework that this relationship is formally defined. The article begins by providing a conceptual framework for the state and civil society distinction and then introduces the evolution of law into a legal system as the precondition for differentiating the civil society as a non-state actor. A comparative evaluation of civil society development in totalitarian, liberal and welfare state systems provides an analytical backdrop for the contemporary transformations generated by globalization and how that affects legal systems, states and civil societies within the realm of the nation-state as well as in the larger context of a global political economic structure.