This chapter offers a broad historical survey of voluntarism in the United States, from early settlement to the present day. It underscores the shifting relationships between associational activity and the organizational structures that have been established to contain, sustain, and promote it. The chapter charts those structures' consolidation into a formal nonprofit sector. Its presiding theme is the embrace of associational life as a means of amassing power—often by those denied it in political or economic realms, but also by those responsible for such denial. Because power is central to the story, so too are suspicions about power and its associational and organizational expression. This chapter sheds light on how Americans have understood voluntarist action and organizations to be both in harmony and in tension with democratic norms and institutions. Among the other themes addressed are the entanglement of the growth of voluntary associations and the nonprofit sector with the development of capitalism and the corporate order; the formation and subsequent blurring of conceptual, legal, and institutional boundaries between the market, government, and voluntary sectors; the ways in which the transatlantic exchange of ideas has shaped American voluntarism; and the contests between mass and elite funding of associational activity. This chapter also highlights the extent to which those who consider themselves stewards of voluntary life have frequently characterized this sector as exhibiting novelty, often imbuing these descriptions with a sense of crisis. Paradoxically, such claims of discontinuity function as a key through-lines of the narrative.
Over the course of American history, philanthropists have been both praised and pilloried, depicted as redeemers of democracy and a threat to it. Despite the shifting social terrain in which they have operated, philanthropists—and the organizations they create—have grown in number and influence, acting as a catalytic force in the genesis and development of the modern nonprofit sector. Philanthropic largesse has also played a powerful role in shaping civic life and political affairs. This chapter argues that it is important to understand not only how philanthropists are seen, but also how they see. In narrating the development of American philanthropy from the late nineteenth to the early twenty-first centuries, our aim is to capture changes in what it means to "see like a philanthropist"—that is, to illuminate the meanings and ends of philanthropic wealth. We focus on three core influences on philanthropic visions: (1) the sources of philanthropic wealth, (2) its organizational embodiments, and (3) the criticisms leveled at its outsized influence. We examine the reciprocal dynamic between political challenges to elite power and philanthropic visions. We show that philanthropists have transposed the practices they used to earn their great fortunes into the organizational routines of their philanthropies and turned these into requirements for those who receive their funding. The actions of past philanthropists weigh heavily on future philanthropists. Consequently, the political might of philanthropy both channels and enables the critiques to which its influence is subjected. In narrating this long arc of history, we show how the super-rich's perceptions of themselves and their role in public life have evolved as well as the myriad ways philanthropy has altered civic and political discourse.
Starting in the early 1960s, economic explanations for nonprofits' existence gained momentum, developing into a dominant account of collective social action. The voluntary sector, it was argued, emerged as a result of gaps left by market and government failures. Implicitly or explicitly, these "failure" assumptions underpin a great deal of research, practice, and policy. Although these ideas remain influential, dramatic changes in recent scholarship drive home the need to reevaluate our theories about the structural origin and nature of the nonprofit sector. In particular, there is reason to question theories predicting sharp divisions of labor between government, market, and voluntary actors in light of now-commonplace observations of extensive blurring and cooperation between the sectors, increasing professionalization of public good organizations, and expectations of social responsibility within commercial firms. Existing theories also have difficulty explaining the massive explosion of formal nonprofit organizations across vastly different political, economic, and historical contexts. This chapter develops an alternative account for why the nonprofit sector expands in its contemporary form, drawing from sociological theories of formal organization. Specifically, I argue that the nature of the contemporary sector is in part a reflection of the rise and globalization of liberal and neoliberal cultural ideologies. An implication of these arguments is that formal nonprofit organization as we know it is a social structural manifestation of specific cultural ideologies and is therefore likely to be undercut if the current world order dissolves.
Although the relationship between the U.S. federal tax system and nonprofit organizations is often described as one of "exemption," the tax system in fact comes into contact with and shapes the nonprofit sector in myriad ways. This chapter provides an overview of the U.S. federal tax provisions affecting nonprofit organizations, with "entanglement" rather than "exemption" as the overarching theme. It identifies three types of entanglement with which the federal tax system is concerned: (1) administrative entanglement, referring to the intervention of tax authorities into the lives of nonprofit organizations; (2) political entanglement, concerning the involvement of nonprofit organizations in the political sphere; and (3) market entanglement, relating to the interaction of nonprofit organizations with for-profit firms and the participation of nonprofit organizations in profit-seeking activities. Key provisions of federal tax law can be understood as attempts to manage all three forms of entanglement while at the same time supporting the nonprofit sector and defending the tax base. The December 2017 tax law leaves in place the basic structures of the federal tax regime for nonprofit organizations but alters the details in important ways, providing less support with more strings attached. The chapter concludes with reflections on entanglement's future in light of these recent statutory changes and the political environment from which they sprang.
Political theory aims to examine social and political arrangements and asks how these arrangements can be appraised and justified. The goal is normative (to evaluate or prescribe) rather than positive (to explain or predict). This chapter begins by arguing that political theory has essential resources to contribute to the study of associational life and what this volume refers to as the nonprofit sector. These are not identical concepts, and political theory can help clarify why the difference is important. The chapter moves on to contend that normative appraisal of the nonprofit sector benefits from combining philosophical and empirical analysis, illustrating this point with a discussion of the nonprofit sector's responsibilities for poverty relief. The third section of the chapter defends a family of political theories that enjoy the broadest theoretical support today: the set of ideas we call liberal democracy. It then explores what liberal democratic commitments have to say about the regulative ideals and institutional architecture of the nonprofit sector. The penultimate section draws attention to emerging challenges—specifically pervasive inequality; the erosion of traditional boundaries between market, state, and nonprofit operations; and the globalization of nonprofit activity—that unsettle conventional thinking about the ethics of nonprofit enterprise and require further study. A concluding section reaffirms the importance of articulating demanding ideals under the trying circumstances that confront the nonprofit sector today.
Nonprofits have been understood as alternatives to public social provision, as inputs for democratic politics, and as collaborators with government agencies that effectively extend the range of state influence. Against the backdrop of this proliferation of arguments for nonprofits' relevance, this chapter addresses the specificity of the nonprofit organization as a political form. As private entities presumed to have a distinct public mission, nonprofit organizations have the ability to extend governmental capacity in ways that may elude democratic accountability. At the same time, these organizations can enable citizens and private actors to pursue alternative paths to civic mobilization and the production of public goods in situations where government fails to act or even opposes some form of social provision or expression. From the vantage point of political theory, this linking of private organizations to a mission that is publicly recognized, sometimes subsidized, and often legitimating defines the nonprofit form and its potential as a site for innovation and arbitrage between different domains.
Philanthropy and politics in the United States have a long and intertwined history. Tax policies enable the creation of private philanthropies and regulate their activities. Meanwhile, philanthropists have found many outlets for their ideas and initiatives in the political system—funding policy research and advocacy, piloting programs, and sometimes partnering directly with government. Recently, however, increasing economic inequality and the growing concentration of wealth among elites is reshaping the relationship between philanthropy and politics. This chapter focuses on the intersection of philanthropy and politics in the twenty-first century and the consequences of expanding philanthropic involvement in politics. Through data on giving and case studies, I demonstrate that philanthropists have become increasingly engaged in politics as political contributors, advocates, and patrons of government programs.
Governance is a familiar term in the literature on organizational management, including nonprofit management, where it often refers to oversight of a specific organization. In this chapter we use the term more expansively to describe the myriad ways in which nonprofits and governments interact—whether in conflict or in collaboration—to formulate and implement strategies for engaging public problems. We propose the governance framework as an alternative to the traditional sector-based view of government–nonprofit relations, which emphasizes similarities among organizations within sectors and distinctions among organizations across sectors. The sectoral view has generated important insights but obscures important details and trends in the current state of public–private interactions and interdependencies. Reflecting a growing awareness of blurred sectoral boundaries, recent research relies less on unitary notions of the state and nonprofit sector, instead exploring how a variety of contextual factors affect present-day governance arrangements. We review this research from three analytical vantage points, explaining how government–nonprofit relations are shaped by variation in (1) institutional conditions, (2) individual motivation and discretion, and (3) interorganizational dynamics. Additionally, we structure our governance framework with four normative issues that recur in academic literature and should interest researchers in this area: (1) fairness, (2) effectiveness, (3) accountability, and (4) legitimacy. We conclude by inviting scholars of public–private relations to draw on our nonessentializing and multi-level governance framework as they examine the multiplicity of actors involved in addressing public problems.
Most social service nonprofits in the United States both depend substantially on the government to sustain their operations and, increasingly, play important roles in policy formulation and implementation. This chapter argues that this sectoral blurring of roles and responsibilities at the government-nonprofit level has also resulted in increased blurring between nonprofit activity and market activity. Notably, concerns around accountability and impact regarding the principal–agent relationship between government and nonprofits have led to government-established incentives for social service nonprofits to look, feel, and act increasingly like for-profit businesses. At the same time, these nonprofits have acquired increased power in governance arrangements and as representatives of marginalized populations. Currently, social service nonprofits are challenged to meet the normative expectations many people have for the nonprofit sector with respect to voluntarism, community connections, and independence from government. These organizations have strong incentives to become more professionalized, larger, and more data driven, and to make decisions regarding service provision and advocacy based on resource availability rather than community needs. The resulting tension between expectations and incentives is reflected in the inconsistent policies, practice recommendations, and even scholarship associated with the sector.
Cities are home to a vast array of nonprofit organizations, from hospitals and universities to tenant unions and community centers. Research on nonprofit organizations, however, has concealed the urban setting of most nonprofits, instead favoring national and organizational levels of analysis. This chapter highlights not only how cities provide an important, immediate social context for nonprofits but also how nonprofits shape cities in important ways. Drawing on nonprofit and urban literatures across several disciplines including sociology and history, we conceptualize nonprofits as urban infrastructure and note five key roles nonprofits play in this capacity: (1) forges of civic capacity, (2) participants in urban governance, (3) conveners of network interaction, (4) anchors of belonging, and (5) builders of the physical environment. Throughout this discussion, we consider not only how the direct activities of nonprofits shape and are shaped by cities, but also the indirect reciprocal influences of each set of institutions. Causally, these relationships are complex, because cities and their urban environment constitute and evolve each other. We conclude with a research agenda that recognizes and further explores the nonprofit sector as a constitutive element of the economic, political, social, and spatial environment of cities and encourages comparative analyses of cities and neighborhoods to investigate how local nonprofit sectors undergird the city in both constructive and counterproductive ways.
This chapter makes the case for greater attention to immigrant communities in the study of nonprofit organizations. In doing so, we develop the concepts of civic (in)equality and (in)visibility to describe the observed disparity in the number, density, breadth, capacity, and visibility of nonprofit organizations in a community. The chapter first reviews the relevant scholarship on immigrant integration, interest groups and social movements, and nonprofit organizations to demonstrate that immigrant nonprofit organizations have been understudied and undertheorized. To advance third sector scholarship that includes immigrant organizations, we argue that researchers need to take better account of the consequences of migrants' citizenship and legal status, their prior political and civic socialization in their homeland, and their transnational engagements. We draw on the small body of existing research on migrant organizing to discuss how migration matters for immigrant civic engagement at the individual and organizational levels, including organizational creation, persistence, and impacts. We discuss how scholars can conceptualize, measure, and analyze immigrant nonprofit organizations, with specific attention to civic inequality, a concept that can also be applied to non-immigrant populations. We conclude by exploring why civic inequality is cause for concern, focusing on immigrants' access to social services, employment, and leadership opportunities as well as their civic voice.
This chapter reviews economic theories of organizations that depart from the standard models of profit-maximizing firms. We discuss earlier theories of nonprofits arising from contract failure and argue that this framework cannot explain hybrid forms of organizations like social enterprise. These hybrid organizations aim to balance social and financial objectives in order to avoid the rigidity of strictly for-profit and nonprofit forms. We characterize conditions under which a social enterprise is likely to be a preferred option for nonprofits and for-profits. We also highlight the importance of selection of managers and workers who are motivated by the mission of the organization.
Social enterprises address social problems by means of markets. Over the past two decades these organizational forms have become increasingly popular across geographies. During this time, open contestation and ideological debates over the promise, intention, and meaning of social entrepreneurship have dominated public discourse. However, these debates have also inhibited the development of a solid knowledge base on social enterprises as a form of organizing within the broader spectrum of private action for public purpose. The dominant view of social enterprises as pursuing dual (commercial and social) goals and as ideal sites to study the battle of logics limits the theorizing potential around social enterprise. In this chapter I advocate for a disciplined-exploration approach to studying social enterprises in order to expose this untapped potential. I draw from a collaborative research project involving 1,045 social enterprises across nine countries and show patterns and common features of social enterprises regarding their choice of legal form, their participation in the market for public purpose, their social footprint, and their role in changing local institutional arrangements. I argue that embracing rather than taming the diversity of social enterprises opens opportunities for both developing new theories and, more importantly, recasting, refining, and connecting existing theories.
Environmental protection has traditionally been the domain of nonprofit organizations. For decades, nonprofit organizations have fought the negative impact of markets on the environment. However, more recently nonprofits have started to adopt the methods and values of the market to achieve their sustainability goals. One of the primary strategies that nonprofits have used is to either disclose or pressure corporations to disclose information about the environmental and social impact of their products and processes. These information disclosure strategies seek to help stakeholders make greener purchases or invest in corporations that use greener practices, thus incentivizing corporations to reduce their environmental footprint. In this chapter, we review how nonprofits are using information disclosure strategies to influence corporations. These approaches differ in terms of whether they focus on the individual product or the firm and in their prescriptiveness. We discuss three types of information disclosure strategies: (1) certification of green or socially responsible products, also called eco-labels; (2) codification and certification of corporate disclosure of environmental performance; and (3) certification of different types of firm governance structure.
This chapter chronicles the contemporary movement toward an outcome orientation in the nonprofit sector and philanthropy ("strategic philanthropy"), describing its components, benefits, hazards, and limits. Though its roots go back well over a century, the movement builds on twentieth-century developments in economics, evaluation, and business. The chapter examines outcome-oriented work in service delivery, policy advocacy, pay-for-success programs, and impact investing and pessimistically predicts future conditions affecting the movement, which is unlikely to flourish.
Health care organizations play an outsized role in the nonprofit sector. Representing only slightly more than 10 percent of all charities, they account for the largest part of the independent sector's revenues, expenses, and assets. Despite their dominance and lengthy pedigree as charities under the law, health care has presented a challenge to popular, legal, and aspirational understandings of nonprofits. This chapter examines both the roles that nonprofits play in the health sector and those that health care entities play in the nonprofit sector. Specifically, it (1) presents data regarding the number, types, and finances of U.S. health care charities; (2) investigates the history of nonprofit health care, challenging a widely held belief that health care charities historically provided care to the needy free of charge but have lost their way from their donative roots; (3) surveys the recent, voluminous research on the role of ownership in health care provision; and (4) reviews recent and proposed regulation of health care nonprofits, observing that nonprofit health care organizations are treated differently both from other charities and from other health care organizations. The chapter concludes that health care charities ought to be treated as charities in good standing.
The U.S. education system has been conceptualized as differing by sector (nonprofit, public, for-profit) and level (K–12, sub-baccalaureate, and four-year colleges and universities). This chapter examines the extent to which institutional characteristics vary along these dimensions and discusses how technological and sociocultural changes have undermined these distinctions and produced hybrid organizational forms. We extend this traditional analysis of nonprofit schooling by arguing for the importance of recognizing the role of nonprofit intermediaries in structuring and legitimating the education system in the United States. This substantial role of intermediaries occurs in the context of a weak centralized state that relies on such entities to deliver education and social welfare services. Implications for future research are highlighted.
Nonprofit organizations have played a significant role in the arts and cultural life of the United States. Today, however, nonprofit arts organizations face numerous challenges, and their viability and role are both subjects of debate. Recent literature increasingly questions the significance of the nonprofit form in the arts. Focusing on the two issues of sustainability and rationales, this chapter discusses recent research and policy literature on the nonprofit arts sector. It observes that the two issues may be becoming more interconnected, as pressure mounts for established nonprofit arts organizations to consider their value and constituencies under changing circumstances. The chapter proposes that tensions in the field between exclusivity and inclusivity offer one useful lens through which to view contemporary developments. The chapter also proposes that although the nonprofit form remains of considerable relevance for many artistic endeavors, it may well be in transition. Having noted both trends and gaps in the literature, the chapter offers areas for future research.
This chapter highlights the social change activity of organizations that have received comparatively little attention in the broader literature on advocacy—those that are formally chartered as tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations, or service-providing public charities. I argue that advocacy is developing into a core component of the tactical repertoire of 501(c)(3) public charities, becoming a legitimate tool or strategy for pursuing mission in the nonprofit sector. In addition, I suggest that public charities are increasingly well positioned to blend organizational advocacy with civic engagement, a dynamic and powerful approach for achieving social change. Finally, although many studies find that features of organizations and their environments influence advocacy outcomes, the topic has not been explored systematically. As a step toward addressing this gap, I elaborate a holistic conceptual framework for studying advocacy by charitable nonprofits. While the framework emphasizes the inputs that shape nonprofit advocacy, the concluding section discusses some of the opportunities and challenges associated with investigating outcomes.
This chapter takes stock of broad trends in nonprofit advocacy in the twenty-first century, focusing on the U.S. experience. It is oriented around the tension between nonprofit advocacy organizations as forces for democratization versus those features of contemporary advocacy nonprofits that either reinforce "de-democratizing" tendencies or reflect a broader context in which democracy may be receding. It unpacks these tensions according to six key dimensions: (1) features of advocacy nonprofit organizational structures that may support or challenge democratic outcomes; (2) pressures toward accountability by third-party monitors, which often deploy metrics that may disadvantage advocacy nonprofits, particularly those that engage in grassroots organizing; (3) questions of whether nonprofits challenge versus reinforce inequalities; (4) the rising use of nonprofits as political intermediaries for corporations or other interests—including concerns about the practice of "astroturfing" and the rise of "dark money" social welfare organizations; (5) practices of advocacy nonprofits that, separate from their structure, may limit democratizing potentials; and (6) the role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in reshaping the practices of advocacy nonprofits. Based on these factors, we draw tentative conclusions regarding the prospects for nonprofits as sources of democratic civic and political action in light of a challenging external sociopolitical environment.
What types of publics emerge from which types of media systems and, in particular, from nonprofit media? This chapter examines this question by tracing nonprofit media's relationships to (1) journalism as professionally situated information practices, (2) news as circulating and interpreting information, and (3) the press as a set of institutional conditions that makes certain types of journalism and news possible. By funding journalism, news, and the press, nonprofit media help to envision and create conditions for collective, communicative self-governance. Starting with a tour of U.S. journalism's historical orientations to news organizations and proceeding through a discussion of the financial and technological forces shaping contemporary, networked nonprofit news, I develop a typology that maps press funding techniques to normative models of the public. Intended as a way to help scholars and reflective practitioners alike think about how nonprofit funding gives rise to networked publics, I demonstrate how choices about nonprofit news institution design have consequences for the kind of democratic self-government media systems can support.
A charitable gift is fundamentally a relationship between a donor and a nonprofit. To understand charitable giving, therefore, this chapter examines the traits and motivations of individual donors (the supply side), the characteristics and activities of nonprofits (the demand side), and the social, economic, and political forces that influence the individual–nonprofit relationship. The chapter begins with a review of the extent of charitable giving in the United States, noting differences in giving priorities between wealthy and nonwealthy donors. It then turns to a discussion of the three categories of influences on charitable giving: (1) individual-level explanations such as networks, religious ties, or education; (2) characteristics of nonprofits and their active fund-raising efforts; and (3) the wide range of social, economic, and political forces that influence the first two categories. These external forces include governmental tax policy, government grants, the economic climate, and generational differences in giving behavior, in addition to social media, which can generate "charitable giving moments." The chapter closes by introducing the new movement to make charitable giving more effective, discussing the ways that giving can be improved, and asking whether donors can truly be expected to privilege dispassionate calculations over subjective preferences.
Much of the research on charitable giving has concentrated on how to increase monetary donations to a single organization. However, a vital question is whether activities that increase donations to one nonprofit (or donations made through one specific method) come at the expense of others. That is, do donors have a fixed budget of altruistic acts, or is the overall altruism budget expandable? This chapter explores the answer to this question by first discussing whether an act needs to be totally unselfish to be counted in the altruism budget. We go on to discuss the various components of the altruism budget, including but not limited to monetary donations, volunteering of time, and in-kind gifts. The remainder of the chapter discusses the research on whether the altruism budget is fixed across gifts to different nonprofits, in different forms, or at different times. Overall, the evidence is mixed on whether the altruism budget is fixed or flexible. Perhaps surprisingly, gifts at one point in time do not appear to lead to budget neutralizing in the form of subsequently lower giving. However, the impact of an act of giving on contemporaneous gifts to other charities or on other forms of giving is more difficult to summarize.
According to the conventional definition, a "volunteer" is not coerced by the state, is unpaid, and is not merely obeying unquestioned cultural demands but rather is working from purely voluntary motives. An alternative approach to defining this term avoids attempting to peer inside the volunteer's soul to decide how "voluntary" the action is, instead asking the researcher to look for what the volunteer values about volunteering, such as a contribution of unpaid labor, job training, feelings of solidarity, sociability, or the "schools for democracy" that volunteer experiences may provide. Focusing on the last of these values, the chapter asks how to find such "schools." The example of the "empowerment project" or "partnership" illustrates how newly typical nonprofit organizational forms constrain volunteers' ability to connect volunteering to politics. Zooming out still further, the chapter asks how empowerment projects embody "the new spirit of capitalism," with its emphasis on flexible, temporary, hands-on action. Although these conditions weigh on volunteers, the chapter's agenda is to provide a framework for seeing how different "styles" of volunteering respond to—and also help create—broader organizational and structural conditions.
Religious organizations are among the oldest and most influential institutions in the world. Within the U.S. nonprofit sector, they are more numerous than any other type of organization, receive over one third of all charitable dollars, and appear within every major domain. Given the scale and pervasiveness of religious organizations in the nonprofit sector, it is critical to understand what characterizes these organizations, how they are different from and similar to secular nonprofit organizations, and how religion influences the nonprofit sector more broadly. However, nonprofit scholars have dedicated relatively little attention to religious organizations and still less to religion within the nonprofit sector. This chapter examines how engaging this understudied area can broaden our understanding of nonprofit organizations and clarify who participates in the nonprofit sector and why. The chapter begins by defining the field of religious nonprofit organizations and estimating the distribution of religious organizations in the major nonreligious domains of the nonprofit sector. It then examines differences and similarities between religious and secular nonprofit organizations. The next section explores various research avenues for approaching religious nonprofits and highlights the relevance of these analyses to enhancing understanding of nonprofit organizations in general. The chapter concludes by looking ahead to a strategic site for future research: hybrid organizations, specifically those that embody both religious and secular characteristics and pursue both nonprofit and for-profit aims.
A global "boom" of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) has been active since the 1990s. In this chapter, we reflect on the character, causes, and consequences of this phenomenon. We emphasize and unpack the global dimensions of the NGO boom and related expansions of societal organizing. The NGO emerged as a preferred organizational template in the international community, emblematic of the dominant liberal ideologies that generally favor and legitimate private organizing. International organizations and donors increasingly supported NGOs, and the template of the NGO provided a global category and model that subsumed much existing organization. The literature is largely optimistic about the positive benefits of NGOs but also contains sharply critical voices that observe instances of dysfunction and failure. We suggest that these divergent views are a consequence of the global character of NGOs. We conclude by reflecting on the fate of NGOs, given increasing nationalist and populist challenges to the liberal international order.
Civil society grew rapidly in the Global South and former communist countries after the Cold War, contributing to a push for global democratization and improved service delivery. Foreign aid was essential to this growth, and as a result of huge influxes of funding, the numbers of domestic and international organizations operating in resource-strapped countries boomed in the 1990s. Later in that decade, however, a curious trend began to emerge: low-income countries increasingly started to restrict the operational abilities of civil society organizations (both foreign and domestic), including their access to and use of funds raised from foreign sources. This clampdown on civil society is part of a wider pushback against key democratic rights and freedoms that has swept the globe in the past decade. This chapter explores the causes of this increase in civil society legal restrictions in poor countries and investigates the impact of the legal backlash on civil society organizations. We outline an ambitious research agenda on this topic, one that we are already beginning to develop under a new research project focused on responses to the backlash against democracy in the African context.
This chapter addresses a puzzling development in the body of research on global social movements. Despite an upsurge in scholarly interest in the topic and widespread coverage of multicountry mass demonstrations like the Arab Spring, levels of transnational activism do not appear to have kept pace with late-twentieth-century predictions. Drawing on a select review of research that speaks to the multiple levels and scales at which social movements operate, we observe that research that focuses on the organization-level dynamics of global social movements sometimes does so at the expense of attention to their political content. At the same time, research that is squarely focused on the political content of social movements often lacks attention to the organizational forms, practices, and routines that constitute them. We argue that a research agenda that clearly links both the content and form of global social movements is needed. We propose an agenda for future research on global social movements that (1) employs a historical orientation that recovers the political content of activism, the analytical concern that dominated studies of the anti-colonial, anti-capitalist, and anti-racist movements of the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries; (2) retains but complicates the polity model's focus on the institutional dynamics of movement activism; and (3) integrates these perspectives with the field's relatively recent fascination with forms of "networked activism" observed in the early years of the twenty-first century.
Over the past three decades, comparative nonprofit research has made significant strides as the sector itself has gained policy salience globally. The conceptual foundations of comparative research were laid in the 1990s, largely driven by the American experience and heavily influenced by the conceptual and empirical work conducted as part of the Johns Hopkins Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project. The project developed definitions and classifications for comparative research and presented data to position the sector economically. It also introduced a conceptual framework for understanding variations in nonprofit sector size and scope, the social origins theory. Twenty years after its first formulation, this chapter revisits the social origins theory as well as underlying basics of comparative nonprofit sector research to date. We suggest that there is a need to rethink the definition and classification of nonprofits and to reexamine the overall analytic approach, including nonprofits' institutional embeddedness in the three institutional complexes of market, state, and civil society. Given the context of perceptions of a shrinking or closing space for civil society, efforts to align nonprofit and civil society research agendas should become a core task of comparative, cross-national research in this field in the near future, ideally linked to other, broader research efforts in the social sciences.