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Research on the Growth of the Global, Interdisciplinary, Socio-behavioral Science Field and Emergent Inter-discipline
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; 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.
This book studies the deviant form of Nonprofit Groups (NPGs), mainly volunteer-based associations, but occasionally paid-staff-based nonprofit agencies. A Deviant Nonprofit Group (DNG) is defined as “a Nonprofit group that deviates significantly from certain moral norms of the society” (Smith, Stebbins, & Dover, 2006, p. 68). The aim is to develop and present an empirically grounded theory with eighty-three hypotheses about many of the key analytical features or operational and structural characteristics of DNGs. Such DNGs were usually voluntary associations with memberships and usually run by volunteers, not nonprofit agencies without memberships and usually run by paid staff (Smith, 2017a). The total theory may be termed a Grounded General Theory of DNG Operation-Structure. The book is based on an extensive review and qualitative content analysis of about 260 published research documents representing twenty-five common-language (vernacular) purposive-goal types of DNGs (vs. analytical-theoretical types, which do not exist in detail). Moral norms are the broad, emotionally charged, customary directives concerning what is right and wrong, by which members of a community or society implement their institutionalized solutions to problems significantly affecting their valued way of life (Stebbins, 1996, pp. 2–3). All the grounded hypotheses reported here were supported by empirical evidence for at least one (often two) of the two or three specific DNGs studied for all DNG types in source documents. Indeed, all reported hypotheses were supported by most of the twenty-five DNG types studied, giving significant qualitative validity to the author’s Grounded General Theory of DNG Operation-Structure. Such support suggests these hypotheses are valid at least sometimes for most DNG types and deserve further investigation. Collectively, the hypotheses of the present theory can be seen as a new theoretical paradigm for studying NPGs that helps bring analytical order to a previously chaotic realm of nonprofit sector deviant (rule-breaking) phenomena.
The foundations of volunteering, charitable giving, voluntary associations, voluntary agencies, and other aspects of the Voluntary Nonprofit Sector (VNPS) collectively and of individual voluntary action lie in various aspects of human nature and societies. These foundations may be referred to variously as altruism, morality, ethics, virtue, kindness, generosity, cooperation, social solidarity, and prosociality (eusociality). These foundations of the VNPS, and specifically of social solidarity and prosociality, are the subjects of this literature review article/book. The central goal is providing a comprehensive and interdisciplinary theoretical framework for understanding, explaining, and predicting such phenomena, based on two versions of the author’s S-Theory:

(1) Individual-System-Level General S-Theory of Human Behavior, as presented briefly here and in greater detail elsewhere (Smith, 2015, 2020a, 2020b; Smith & van Puyvelde, 2016);
(2) Social-System-Level General S-Theory of Collective Prosociality-Social Solidarity, as partially sketched here for the first time in print.

Social-System-Level General S-Theory of collective Prosociality-Social Solidarity argues that collective social solidarity can be better explained with a broader than usual range of factors as major causal influences, beyond normative systems. Individual prosociality behavior can be best explained and understood using the author’s Individual-System-Level General S-Theory of Human Behavior.
Prosociality includes (a) instrumental (task-oriented) helping behavior, such as formal and informal volunteering or charitable giving for non-household/non-immediate family persons and also informal care of residential household/immediate family persons, plus (b) expressive prosociality or sociability that involves positive interpersonal relations with one or more other persons, both in the residential household/immediate family or outside of it, based on feelings of attachment, fellowship, friendship, affection, and/or love.
Prosociality and social solidarity are clearly human universals, as Brown (1991) concludes from anthropological studies on hundreds of mostly preliterate societies on all continents. Such individual human prosociality activities often have positive short- and long-term consequences for the people who do them.
Series Editor:
The Voluntaristics Review book series focuses on various aspects of Voluntaristics as an international and interdisciplinary field and as an emerging academic discipline. Included are review articles on special topics related to the nonprofit sector, voluntary sector, third sector, civil society (sector), social economy, solidarity economy, social enterprise, social entrepreneurship, social investment, solidarity, philanthropy, giving, grants economy, foundations, volunteering (both formal and informal), civic engagement, community engagement, engagement, citizen participation, participation, nonprofit, not-for-profit, nonprofit organizations (NPOs), nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), voluntary associations, associations, sodalities, self-help groups, mutual aid groups, support groups, interest groups, pressure groups, cooperatives, nonprofit agencies, civil liberties, democracy, democratization, social movements, social protest, and mobilization, among other topics. One main target audience for the Voluntaristics Review are students and scholars in the field of Voluntaristics worldwide.
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.
Voluntary associations (VAs) are the oldest and most frequent type of groups in the charitable, voluntary, nonprofit, third, or civil society sector worldwide. Smith’s book reviews the positive long-term historical impacts of some fundamentally deviant VAs (DVAs) or dark side examples of such associations. Dissenting DVAs such as the American Anti-Slavery Society in the 1800s and the National Woman’s Party in the early 1900s worked long and effectively to foster U.S. socio-cultural progress and ethical evolution as part of the global rights revolution. Parallel Noxious DVAs like the German Nazi Party or Heaven’s Gate mass suicide cult had opposite, deeply harmful impacts. Eccentric DVAs like nudist/naturist clubs or Oneida free-love commune (mid-1800s) were largely harmless hobbies, with little harmful impact.
In: A Survey of Voluntaristics