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David Horton Smith

Abstract

This paper presents an overview of the statistics on Civil Society and the Voluntary Nonprofit Sector (vnps) in the world, with special attention to the usa and China. The central foci are numbers of Nonprofit Groups, especially associations, and numbers of volunteers in associations. The paper draws on various research documents, as well as estimates by the author, based on extensive prior research.

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David Horton Smith

ngos and the voluntary nonprofit sector are ultimately based on altruism and philanthropy in humans. Altruism may be defined as unselfish concern for the welfare and satisfactions of others. Research in the past 30 years has demonstrated that 30-50% of a person’s tendency to feel and practice altruism is based on our genes and dna. Because philanthropy is a broad, more universal form of altruism, such research indicates that philanthropy in humans also has evolutionary roots in our dna. Such research supports the conclusion that there is a Global Spirit of Altruism, hardwired into the human species as a feeling, attitude, and behavior tendency. Similarly, there has been a Global Spirit of Philanthropy emerging in humans over the past two millennia, and especially in the past two centuries.

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A Survey of Voluntaristics

Research on the Growth of the Global, Interdisciplinary, Socio-Behavioral Science Field and Emergent Inter-Discipline

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David Horton Smith

This article provides a survey of the growth of research on Nonprofit Sector and Voluntary Action Research, now termed simply voluntaristics. The author founded the organized, global, interdisciplinary, socio-behavioral science field of voluntaristics in 1971, with his formation and establishment of the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA; www.arnova.org). Both ARNOVA, and its interdisciplinary, academic journal, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly (NVSQ), have served as initial models for the global diffusion of this interdisciplinary field, now present in all inhabited continents and with upwards of 20,000 academic participants in at least 130 nations and territories, and likely more.
Voluntaristics, after more than 40 years of growth, now qualifies as a new, global, integrative, academic discipline in the socio-behavioral sciences and related social professions, not just as one of many interdisciplinary fields of research, according to six defining criteria for a discipline. However, the author prefers to label voluntaristics as an inter-discipline, since its hallmark is the interdisciplinary study of all, voluntary nonprofit sector (VNPS) phenomena.
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David Horton Smith

Published research in English is reviewed on the Nonprofit Sector (NPS) in mainland China since Mao’s death in 1976. A large, diverse, and rapidly growing NPS exists, but openly political Nonprofit Organizations (NPOs) outside the Communist Party and its control are prohibited. China has civil society in the narrower sense: a substantial civil society sector or NPS exists. However, the party-state in China continues to play a dominating role in regard to the NPS, especially for registered NPOs. Freedom of association is still limited in China, especially for national associations, which are nearly all Government Organized Nongovernmental Organizations (GONGOs), not genuine NGOs/NPOs. The broader scope definition of civil society focuses on functioning civil liberties, and the ability of NPOs in general to influence significantly the government on various policy issues. In these terms, China has a weak but slowly emerging civil society with far more associational freedom than under Mao.
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David Horton Smith

Reviewed here is global research on how 13 types of Voluntary Membership Associations (MAs) have significantly or substantially had global impacts on human history, societies, and life. Such outcomes have occurred especially in the past 200+ years since the Industrial Revolution circa 1800 CE, and its accompanying Organizational Revolution. Emphasized are longer-term, historical, and societal or multinational impacts of MAs, rather than more micro-level (individual) or meso-level (organizational) outcomes. MAs are distinctively structured, with power coming from the membership, not top-down. The author has characterized MAs as the dark matter of the nonprofit/third sector, using an astrophysical metaphor. Astrophysicists have shown that most physical matter in the universe is dark in the sense of being unseen, not stars or planets.