Sector Labels



When the multitude of associations outside the state and market are perceived as one unit a sector label comes into use to distinguish them from their surroundings. In this chapter, the historical and normative roots behind four of the leading sector labels in use – “nonprofit,” “civil,” “voluntary,” and “third sector” – are investigated. These labels provide definitions of, as well as arguments for the sector. Together they form sector paradigms; inherently consistent ways of understanding relations between individual motives and associations. Comparing sector paradigms reveals antagonistic features between them. While the “nonprofit” approach sees associations as service providers, the “civil” paradigm underlines associations’ identities as carriers of group interests. As service producers, associations tend to be integrated into public service programs; as mediators of civic spirit, autonomy is vital. The emerging idea of governance constitutes an answer to this dilemma. How successful this compromise will turn out to be, remains to be seen.


Civil Society State Welfare Nonprofit Sector Welfare Service Voluntary Association 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institutt for SamfunnsforskningOsloNorway

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