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10. Voluntary Organizations and Civil Society

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Chapter Summary

Today, the culture of voluntary organizations and volunteering has been disseminated to many parts of the world from North America and Western Europe. In terms of the interrelationship among key civil and political players, voluntary organizations are posited as a mediator between citizens and the state: voluntary organizations provide opportunities for citizens to relate to the political system. This chapter reviews major structural and cultural causal mechanisms behind international and interregional variations of voluntary organizations and volunteers, and introduces individual-level causes for these variations. However, before beginning a detailed discussion of these causes, the chapter considers how voluntary organizations and volunteering were regarded as American exceptionalism. The global civil society is composed of a complicated mixture among a variety of institutions. Regime types, democracy, economic development, and religiosity are probably some significant factors.

Keywords: American exceptionalism; economic development; global civil society; political system; social democracy; voluntary organizations



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