The paper examines the role of civil society in democratization processes, drawing on East European, mostly Polish, experiences. It begins with a brief overview of the major types of definitions of civil society. Its bulk is devoted to a detailed analysis of the origins and functions of various sectors of civil society during the three phases of democratization: (a) state"socialism's disintegration; (b) transfer of power; and (c)consolidation of democracy. For each phase and each sector of civil society the impact of international linkages and foreign (external) resources is assessed. The essay closes with a set of generalizations on the relationships between various types of civil society on the one hand and the forms of the domestic"international interaction, on the other.