In the context of democratic discourse, civil society is given a decisive role in the formation of power and influence on power. However, between the authorities (state and self-governing) and public organizations, as representatives of the interests of civil society, mostly subject-object relations are established, where the subject is the government. The article is devoted to finding an answer to the question: can the model of subject-subject relations between the government and civil society, where both social institutions are equal participants in the political process, have practical application? Analysis of social changes in Western Europe and Ukraine gives grounds to support the point of view of those scholars who consider civil society the basis of the state, a factor that gives a specific character to each state formation, regardless of the generality of democratic processes. At the same time, attention is drawn to the heterogeneity of civil society, which is a barrier to its consolidation and strengthening of subjectivity. There is a noticeable increase in competition between the state and civil society in terms of influencing society, as well as the manipulation of public movements by public authorities to achieve political goals. However, a fairly high level of public confidence in public organizations and the potential for their advocacy allow the use of public influence to activate the population and strengthen the position of civil society in relations with the authorities.