There has been much discussion recently of “global civil society”. This concept evidently draws on the more familiar civil society concept as related to national societies. What are the consequences of extending the concept in this way? Is global civil society simply civil society writ large, an extension to the international plane of basically the same kinds of institutions and practices as are found in national societies? Or do we need new tools of description and analysis? This article considers various theories of global civil society, and the extent to which they map onto traditional concepts of civil society. It concludes that global civil society may express the same mixture of strengths and weaknesses as the parent concept of civil society, but with additional features of its own that may – somewhat surprisingly – make it more robust than the earlier concept from which it derives.