Moving Beyond Empirical Theory

Chapter

Abstract

Despite the marked rise of third sector research since the 1970s, the level of theoretical advance has not been as impressive. From its beginnings in neo-classical economic theory, through empirically -driven case study research and comparative analysis, to social origins theory, the mapping of global civil society, and social capital studies, research on the third sector has remained relatively under-theorized. This chapter argues that the reason for this is that all these approaches are epistemologically tied to empirical political theory: a standpoint that results in adopting a rather hollow image of “man” and society and a limited reading of political action and vision. Theoretical advance requires third sector research to turn to a post-empirical, more explicit normative approach with critical intent: to articulate and actualize a more emancipatory democratic politics that appropriately embraces the rise of novel organizational forms, new methods of governance, and the advent of a global civil society.

Keywords

Income Stear Lester 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

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