NEWS RELEASE | Now available from Johns Hopkins University Press—Explaining Civil Society Development: A Social Origins Approach

By on September 6, 2017

The Johns Hopkins University Press is pleased to announce its publication of Explaining Civil Society Development: A Social Origins Approach by Lester M. Salamon, S. Wojciech Sokolowski, Megan A. Haddock, and Associates.
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-five years, however, scholars under the umbrella of the Johns Hopkins Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project have worked with statisticians in countries around the world to assemble the first comprehensive, empirical picture of the size, structure, financing, and role of this increasingly important component of society.
This new book is the capstone of this 25-year undertaking and a crucial successor to the previous books to emerge from this work. Not only does Explaining Civil Society Development draw together all of the systematic comparative data on the nonprofit sector, volunteering, and philanthropy assembled by this Project on over 42 countries around the world, but also takes the next step by going beyond description to address the important analytical question of what accounts for the enormous and puzzling cross-national variations that these data reveal in the size and contours of the civil society sector around the world?
In the process, Explaining Civil Society Development provides the first systematic, empirical test of the two major sets of existing theories that have been advanced to explain these variations in civil society development that attribute them, respectively, to differences in citizen “sentiments” and “preferences.” Finding these theories inadequate to account for much of the observed variation, the book draws on the insights of Barrington Moore, Jr., Dietrich Rueschemeyer, and others to formulate an alternative “social origins” theory that attributes the variations in civil society strength and composition around the world to the relative power of different social and economic groupings and institutions during critical turning points in national development.
Utilizing statistical and comparative historical methods, it then tests this theory against the newly available evidence. What emerges is the discovery of a set of distinctive patterns of civil society development that are, in turn, embedded in identifiable constellations of social, economic, and political influence. As a result, this pioneering volume offers a fresh and well-documented framework for understanding the varied evolution of the nonprofit or civil society sector throughout the world and a potential basis for predicting its likely future evolution in various settings.
Part II of the volume provides a detailed look at the scale and shape of the civil society sector in ten countries for which new or updated data have recently become available and assesses how well the social origins theory accounts for the patterns that become evident.
In its robust new systematic data on a sector that has long been invisible and its powerful conceptual analysis, this book will be of interest not only to students of the nonprofit sector, but to anyone interested in sociology, political science, comparative history, or public policy—and to government officials, development specialists, and nonprofit practitioners alike.

Get Explaining Civil Society Development: A Social Origins Approach today

Explaining Civil Society Development: A Social Origins Approach is available to order in Hardback or Digital E-Reader Editions today from Johns Hopkins University Press and Amazon, as well as other major retailers.
For direct orders from Johns Hopkins University Press, we are offering a 20% discount off the suggested retail price on both editions—please be sure to enter discount code HTWN when ordering to receive your discount.
Click here to order from Johns Hopkins University Press with the discount code.
Click here to order from Amazon.
Click here to download the flyer for the book.
ISBN 978-1-4214-2298-5 | Hardcover & Digital | US$64.95 ($51.96 with discount)

Q&A with Lester Salamon

In anticipation of the release of Explaining Civil Society Development, lead author and Center for Civil Society Studies Director Lester M. Salamon conducted a Q&A with Johns Hopkins University Press that gives some insight into the motivations for writing the book, the insights he and his colleagues gained in the process, and what readers can expect when they explore the book. The Q&A is reproduced below.

JHU Press: Why did you decide to write this book?

Lester M. Salamon: Existing theories purporting to explain civil society development from place to place could not account for the variations in civil society size and shape revealed by the body of cross-national empirical data on this sector generated for the first time by our research over the past 25 years. We wrote the book to test these theories against actual data and to find our way to a more persuasive and effective explanation.

What were some of the most surprising things you learned while writing/researching the book?

Sentiments of altruism do not vary that much across societies and religious traditions and therefore cannot explain much about variations in civil society strength or character. Prevailing economic theories that see civil society development shaped by consumer preferences in the market for services and citizen choices expressed through elections do not explain much of the variation in civil society development. Rather, we found compelling evidence that a country’s civil society is shaped by power relationships among powerful social and economic groupings.

What is new about your book/research that sets it apart from other books in the field

This book brings brand new empirical data into the analysis of the scope, scale, and patterns of development of the civil society sector on a global basis. It also refutes prevailing economic and cultural explanations of the rise and expansion of the civil society sector and brings a novel comparative historical “social origins” approach to an analysis of the evolution of the civil society sector globally.

Did you encounter any eye-opening statistics while writing your book?

Several, yes. First, the civil society workforce is the second or third largest of any industry in most advanced industrial countries; second, the civil society sector in Europe is larger than that in the U.S. when measured as a share of the working age population; third, government has emerged as the largest single source of support for civil society organizations in most of Western Europe and easily outdistances philanthropy even in the United States; and finally, volunteer work, i.e., the giving of time, outdistances the giving of cash by a factor of 2:1.

Does your book uncover and/or debunk any longstanding myths?

This book debunks several long-standing myths that permeate the understanding of the civil society sector around the world, including:

  • That civil society is predominantly an American phenomenon—in fact many other countries have larger civil society sectors relative to the size of their economies than the U.S.
  • That Europe has a “welfare state”—In fact, it has built a massive “welfare partnership” relying heavily on nonprofit organizations to deliver state-financed services.
  • That a zero-sum relationship exists between nonprofits and government such that an expansion of government leads inevitably to the displacement of private, nonprofit groups. In fact, these two sectors are mutually reinforcing.
  • That private philanthropy is the largest source of financial support to nonprofits, especially in the United States. In fact, even in the U.S., this is far from the case. Philanthropy accounts for no more than 13-15% of nonprofit revenues in the U.S., and is the dominant source of funding in only one country that we studied (Mozambique).

What is the single most important fact revealed in your book and why is it significant?

That the development of the civil society sector in a country is fundamentally shaped by power relationships among powerful socio-economic groupings.

How do you envision the lasting impact of your book?

One of our reviewers put the answer to this question most succinctly:

“In its macro-level focus and mixture of historical and empirical explanation, the book offers a theoretical approach to the study of civil society that should be useful and appealing to scholars and audiences outside of the traditional nonprofit studies field, or to those in the field who have been looking for a less economics-heavy and more holistic approach to theory making. In particular, the theory’s firm emphasis on power dynamics begins to offer a more critical lens for viewing the evolution of civil society and the nonprofit sector around the world—a crucial step for the field and a useful source for sociology, political science, and other disciplines.
We have been missing a macro-level, cross-national examination of civil society that addresses civil society development in a systematic, empirical way. For those who have been developing curricula on nonprofit sector theory, this book is very timely indeed.”

What do you hope people will take away from reading your book?

I hope that readers will gain an appreciation of the enormous cross-national diversity of civil society forms but also be introduced to the existence of a body of theory with which to explain this diversity and predict future evolutions with reasonable confidence.
Chelsea Newhouse, Center for Civil Society Studies
Gene Taft, Johns Hopkins University Press


Posted in: News Releases

The PtP Beat Goes On: A New Cache of PtP Foundations

By on July 24, 2017

The recent identification of stolen or stranded assets as another asset class to which the PtP concept can be applied has surfaced a number of new PtP foundations. Already, the PtP Project has issued a case study focusing on one

Center Director Lester Salamon Discusses the Future and Role of Foundations in China

By on June 27, 2017

In January 2017, Center Director Lester Salamon visited Beijing at the invitation of the Asia Foundation Beijing Office to speak to foundation leaders and students at the China Foundation Centre (CFC), China Donor Roundtable (CDR), and the China Global Philanthropy Institute

Now available from the PtP Project: New insights into applications of the PtP concept to different asset classes

By on April 20, 2017

The PtP Project is pleased to bring you a new report from Project Direct Dr. Lester Salamon from Project Director Dr. Lester Salamon highlighting new insights unveiled at a recent PtP Conference into how the PtP concept can be applied

Announcing Nonprofit Works: An Interactive Database on the U.S. Nonprofit Economy

By on January 25, 2017

Media contact: Chelsea Newhouse ___________________ The Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies is proud to announce the launch of Nonprofit Works, a new interactive website providing access to critical data on nonprofit employment, establishments, and wages in the United

NEW REPORT | Pennsylvania Nonprofits: A Major State Industry

By on January 24, 2017

Our newest report, Pennsylvania Nonprofits: A Major State Industry, highlights the important role the sector plays in the economic vitality of the state. The report, produced by our Nonprofit Economic Data Project, reveals that the nonprofit sector is not only

NEWS RELEASE | The BOTA Foundation: A Model for the Safe Return of Stolen Assets?

By on January 20, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Chelsea Newhouse     We are pleased to announce the publication of The BOTA Foundation: A Model for the Safe Return of Stolen Assets?, the first in a series of reports from the Philanthropication thru Privatization

New Report Highlights the Economic Impact of the New York Capital Region Nonprofit Sector

By on January 10, 2017

The Center’s first report of 2017, “New York Capital Region Nonprofits: A Major Economic Engine,” produced by our Nonprofit Economic Data Project (NED) in collaboration with the New York Council of Nonprofits, Inc. (NYCON), examines the economic impact and role

Now Available: Portuguese translation of “Philanthropication thru Privatization” from IDIS

By on September 30, 2016

We are very happy to announce the publication of a Portuguese translation of Philanthropication thru Privatization: Building Permanent Endowments for the Common Good, Filantropização via Privatização: Garantindo Receitas Permanentes para o Bem Comum.   This translation was undertaken and published

Japanese edition of Leverage for Good now available

By on March 15, 2016

The Center is pleased to announce that the Japanese translation of Director Lester Salamon’s recent book, Leverage for Good: An Introduction to the New Frontiers of Philanthropy and Social Investing (Oxford University Press, 2014), is now available from Minerva Publishing!

Lester Salamon speaks to the UN Statistics Division on the revision of the UN NPI Handbook

By on March 10, 2016

Center Director Lester Salamon was invited by the United Nations Statistics Division to present the work our Center is doing to advance the international statistical revolution in the measurement and understanding of the third sector during a side event of

Meet Erik Petrovski, Fall 2015 International Philanthropy Fellow

By on February 9, 2016

The Johns Hopkins International Fellows in Philanthropy Program is a highly-selective program that welcomes one or two researchers from outside the U.S. to spend one or more semesters at our Center to conduct independent research on an aspect of the

Four Shades of Resilience: The Center for Civil Society Studies in 2015

By on December 21, 2015

Perhaps no quality captures more effectively the distinctive character of nonprofit institutions and related voluntary citizen behavior that is the focus of our Center’s attention than the quality of resilience—the ability to withstand significant shifts in fortunes and challenges and

UN “Human Development Report” and OECD’s “How’s Life?” emphasize contribution of volunteering

By on December 14, 2015

Two major publications have made important recognition of the contribution of volunteering to well-being and human development and the need for improved information. The elevation of the recognition of the contributions of volunteers to this level of policy discussion, and

Announcing The Resilient Sector Revisited: The New Challenge to Nonprofit America

By on December 14, 2015

We are happy to announce the release by Brookings Institution Press of Center Director Lester Salamon’s latest book, The Resilient Sector Revisited: The New Challenge to Nonprofit America!   Published in August, this second edition of The Resilient Sector provides

Two new reports from Canada highlight volunteering and giving data

By on December 7, 2015

Statistics Canada has released two new reports drawing on the 2013 General Social Survey (GSS) on Giving, Volunteering, and Participating to profile volunteering and giving in Canada. The first report, “Volunteering and charitable giving in Canada” by Martin Turcotte (English

New Irish data links volunteering to wellbeing

By on August 5, 2015

Ireland is the most recent country to have added questions about volunteering to a national household survey and to generate data about the number of persons that volunteer, the number of hours they dedicated and the types of activity carried

Reflections on Volunteers, Civil Society, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

By on July 16, 2015

In September, the United Nations will adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an overarching set of collective objectives for the development of people and the planet that will replace the expiring Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on January 1, 2016. The

Measuring Volunteerism: Report on the UNV Side Event to the 46th Session of the United Nations Statistical Commission

By on July 7, 2015

The text of this post is drawn from a report authored by the United Nations Volunteers, which is available for download here. Center Director Lester Salamon, spoke at this event. _________________________   The UN Volunteer programme’s side event to the

TSI Project: A statistical revolution in data on the third sector in Europe

By on June 10, 2015

The following is a news release from the Third Sector Impact project, a major effort underway in Europe to “understand the scope and scale of the third sector in Europe, its current and potential impact, and the barriers hindering the

Good news, and more good news, about the measurement of volunteer activity

By on June 8, 2015

This post originally appeared in the June 2015 issue of the International Association for Volunteer Effort’s (IAVE) e-newsletter, ahead of an upcoming webinar presentation to IAVE members about the features of the ILO Manual on June 23. ____________________________________________   Despite

A Win-Win Route Out of the Greek Debt Crisis

By on May 11, 2015

A new article by Center Director Lester Salamon, published today in the May-June edition of The World Financial Review, takes a look at a novel solution to the on-going Greek debt crisis. Rooted in his work exploring a phenomenon he

Statement from Lester Salamon on the recent events in Baltimore

By on May 1, 2015

A number of you have been kind enough to express concern about the health and safety of all of us at the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies following the reports of violence and looting in Baltimore earlier this

Cameroon releases its first NPI satellite account, providing inspiration for other countries

By on January 29, 2015

Cameroon became only the third African country to complete a satellite account on nonprofit institutions and volunteering since the 2003 publication of the UN Handbook on Nonprofit Institutions in the System of National Accounts. The only other African countries to