Political Theory and the Nonprofit Sector

In Walter W. Powell & Patricia Bromley (eds.), The Nonprofit Sector: A Research Handbook. Stanford, CA, USA: Stanford University Press. pp. 171-91 (2020)
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This chapter defends an overarching ideal of liberal democracy—government for and by the people, where each is considered free and equal—and shows how different conceptions of this ideal lead to different visions of the nonprofit sector. The argument reflects a more fundamental point: that claims about the proper shape and scope of civil society, and certainly the dimensions of nonprofit organizations, are structured by larger political ideals. We cannot understand competing visions of the nonprofit sector without seeing it in relation to the political and social order in which it is supposed to rest.

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