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Explaining Civil Society Development

, 344 pages

26 line drawings

September 2017



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Pre-order. Will ship in August 2017

Explaining Civil Society Development

A Social Origins Approach



The civil society sector—made up of millions of nonprofit organizations, associations, charitable institutions, and the volunteers and resources they mobilize—has long been the invisible subcontinent on the landscape of contemporary society. For the past twenty years, however, scholars under the umbrella of the Johns Hopkins Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project have worked with statisticians to assemble the first comprehensive, empirical picture of the size, structure, financing, and role of this increasingly important part of modern life.

What accounts for the enormous cross-national variations in the size and contours of the civil society sector around the world? Drawing on the project’s data, Lester M. Salamon, S. Wojciech Sokolowski, Megan A. Haddock, and their colleagues raise serious questions about the ability of the field’s currently dominant preference and sentiment theories to account for these variations in civil society development. Instead, using statistical and comparative historical materials, the authors posit a novel social origins theory that roots the variations in civil society strength and composition in the relative power of different social groupings and institutions during the transition to modernity.

Drawing on the work of Barrington Moore, Dietrich Rueschemeyer, and others, Explaining Civil Society Development provides insight into the nonprofit sector’s ability to thrive and perform its distinctive roles. Combining solid data and analytical clarity, this pioneering volume offers a critically needed lens for viewing the evolution of civil society and the nonprofit sector throughout the world.

Lester M. Salamon is a professor of public policy at Johns Hopkins University; director of the Center for Civil Society Studies, Institute for Health and Social Policy at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; research professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies–Bologna Center; and senior research professor at the National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow. S. Wojciech Sokolowski is a senior research associate at the Center for Civil Society Studies. He is the author of Civil Society and the Professions in Eastern Europe: Social Change and Organizational Innovation in Poland. Megan A. Haddock is the international research projects manager for the Center for Civil Society Studies.

"In its macro-level focus and mixture of historical and empirical explanation, this exciting book offers a theoretical approach to the study of civil society that should be useful and appealing to scholars. Logically presented and well written, it will not only lead to future study but can also be used in foundational courses on the nonprofit sector."

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