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Politics and Partnerships

The Role of Voluntary Associations in America’s Political Past and Present

Politics and Partnerships

The Role of Voluntary Associations in America’s Political Past and Present

Exhorting people to volunteer is part of the everyday vocabulary of American politics. Routinely, members of both major parties call for partnerships between government and nonprofit organizations. These entreaties increase dramatically during times of crisis, and the voluntary efforts of ordinary citizens are now seen as a necessary supplement to government intervention.

But despite the ubiquity of the idea of volunteerism in public policy debates, analysis of its role in American governance has been fragmented. Bringing together a diverse set of disciplinary approaches, Politics and Partnerships is a thorough examination of the place of voluntary associations in political history and an astute investigation into contemporary experiments in reshaping that role. The essays here reveal the key role nonprofits have played in the evolution of both the workplace and welfare and illuminate the way that government’s retreat from welfare has radically altered the relationship between nonprofits and corporations.

352 pages | 3 halftones, 17 line drawings, 13 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2011

History: American History

Political Science: American Government and Politics

Sociology: Formal and Complex Organizations, Social History


“This is an important, agenda-setting volume that, across its varied chapters, demonstrates that nonprofits—and nonprofit scholarship—need to be centered in the study of American political development. From the empirically rigorous essays collected here, it becomes clear that explicit and implicit partnerships between the government and nonprofits have existed long before now and that understanding contemporary politics and policy requires identifying and analyzing the points of intersection between nonprofit, corporate, and governmental sectors. Through its theoretical ambition, the range of historical and contemporary cases it covers, and the quality of its scholarship, Politics and Partnerships sets a new standard in this vital area.”

Debra Minkoff, Barnard College, Columbia University

“A fantastic collection of essays—one of the few edited volumes I have seen where the whole is much greater than the sum of the individual parts. One of the book’s strengths is its interdisciplinary nature: the editors have assembled a unique set of perspectives, approaches, and studies at different historical periods.”--Christopher Marquis, Harvard Business School

Christopher Marquis

Table of Contents


1 Introduction: Politics and Partnerships

Elisabeth S. Clemens and Doug Guthrie

Part I  Of, By, and Instead of Politics

2 Civil Society and American Nationalism, 1776–1865

Johann N. Neem

3 Steering the State: Government, Nonprofits, and the Making of Labor Knowledge in the New Era

Mark Hendrickson

4 In the Shadow of the New Deal: Reconfiguring the Roles of Government and Charity, 1928–1940

Elisabeth S. Clemens

Part II  Nonprofits in a World of Markets

5 Bringing the Market Back In: Philanthropic Activism and Conservative Reform

Alice O’Connor

6 Nonprofit Research Institutes: From Companies without Products to Universities without Students

James A. Evans

7 Corporate Philanthropy in the United States: What Causes Do Corporations Back?

Doug Guthrie

Part III  Boundary Crossing: Contemporary Recombinations of Markets, States, and Nonprofit Organizing

8 Privatizing the Welfare State: Nonprofit Community-Based Organizations as Political Actors

Nicole P. Marwell

9 Nonprofits and the Reconstruction of Urban Governance: Housing Production and Community Development in Cleveland, 1975–2005
Michael McQuarrie

10 Evangelical Megachurches and the Christianization of Civil Society: An Ethnographic Case Study

Omri Elisha

11 Resolviendo: How September 11 Tested and Transformed a New York City Mexican Immigrant Organization

Alyshia Gálvez

List of Contributors



Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA): Outstanding Book in Nonprofit & Voluntary Action Research

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