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The Study of Nonprofit Enterprise: Theories and Approaches (Nonprofit and Civil Society Studies)

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Salamon, S. Wojciech Sokolowski, Megan A.

The Study of Nonprofit Enterprise : Theories and Approaches

Haddock and associates draw on this sizable body of new data to test a variety of theories about what causes a number of intriguing puzzles that this research surfaced. And how is it that the overall size and shape of the civil society sector in Mexico is virtually identical with that in Russia, a country seemingly worlds away? More generally, in generating the first systematic, comparative data on the size, structure, financing, and role of the civil society sector, these data made it possible for almost the first time to test the major existing theories about the causes of nonprofit development.

And what these data revealed flatly contradicted many of the central expectations flowing from these theories.


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  7. But we could find no religious tradition in the world that failed to emphasize these values, and some of the countries with dominant religions displaying the strongest emphases on such values happened to have the smallest civil society sectors. This theory predicted that the greater the heterogeneity of a population, the greater the inability to reach consensus on the supply of various collective goods by government, hence the smaller the scale of government spending and the greater the size of the nonprofit sector.

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    Unfortunately, the facts failed to confirm these expectations: most of the countries with the largest levels of government social welfare spending turned out to have the largest nonprofit sectors. In articulating this new theory, Explaining Civil Society Development: A Social Origins Approach argues: first , that underlying the apparently random cross-national variations in key dimensions of the civil society sector lie some identifiable patterns; and second , that these patterns are strongly associated with distinctive constellations of power relationships among a variety of socio-economic groups and institutions—including landed elites, middle-class commercial and industrial interests, peasants, workers, and governmental institutions—that are embedded in societies during critical periods of societal development.

    As outlined in the graphic below, the book identifies at least five different patterns of civil society development , each of which can be traced to a particular configuration of social, economic, and political power among key social actors. Part II of Explaining Civil Society Development then examines how well this social origins theory accounts for the observed dimensions of the civil society sector in ten countries—Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, The Netherlands, Chile, Austria, Denmark, Russia, Mexico, and Portugal—for which new or updated data have recently become available.