We review the general hydrodynamic theory of active soft materials that is motivated in particular by biological matter. We present basic concepts of irreversible thermodynamics of spatially extended multicomponent active systems. Starting from the rate of entropy production, we identify conjugate thermodynamic fluxes and forces and present generic constitutive equations of polar active fluids and active gels. We also discuss angular momentum conservation which plays a role in the the physics of active chiral gels. The irreversible thermodynamics of active gels provides a general framework to discuss the physics that underlies a wide variety of biological processes in cells and in multicellular tissues.
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