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Contesting parallel worlds: time to abandon the distinction between the ‘international’ and ‘domestic’ contexts of third sector scholarship?

Lewis, David ORCID: 0000-0003-0732-9020 (2015) Contesting parallel worlds: time to abandon the distinction between the ‘international’ and ‘domestic’ contexts of third sector scholarship? Voluntas, 26 (5). pp. 2084-2103. ISSN 0957-8765

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Identification Number: 10.1007/s11266-014-9482-x


Since third sector research emerged as a fully fledged inter-disciplinary academic field during the late 1980s, a separation has usually been maintained—in common with many other social science disciplines—between communities of researchers who are primarily concerned with the study of the third sector in rich Western countries and those who work on the third sector in the so-called ‘developing world’. While internationally focused researchers tend to use the language of ‘non-governmental organizations’, those in domestic settings usually prefer the terms ‘non-profit organization’ or ‘voluntary organization’, even though both sub-sectors share common principles and are equally internally diverse in terms of organizations and activities. While there has long been common-sense logic to distinguishing between wealthier and poorer regions of the world based on differences in the scale of human need, the ‘developed’ versus ‘developing’ category can also be criticized as being rather simplistic and unhelpfully ideological. As the categories of ‘developing’ and ‘developed’ countries become less clear-cut, and global inter-connectedness between third sectors and their ideas grows, this paper argues that we need to reconsider the value of maintaining these parallel worlds of research, and instead develop a more unified approach.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2014 International Society for Third-Sector Research and The Johns Hopkins University
Divisions: Social Policy
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Date Deposited: 07 Oct 2014 11:03
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2021 02:03
Projects: RES-155-25-0064
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council

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