Most social commentators and politicians have espoused the Tocquevillian conviction that voluntary efforts contribute vitally to the health of American society, making up a third sector "between states and markets." The essays gathered here analyze the voluntary sector in the United States and other advanced industrial societies to discover whether the role of voluntary associations is distinctly American or similar in other places. The contributors also look at a variety of other questions. Is America's voluntary sector still viable? Or is it endangered by growing pressures from the government and the marketplace? Where do religious endeavors fit into the broader range of voluntary associations in the countries examined? And is a strong independent voluntary sector essential for creating a vibrant public sphere in which public values can be articulated? After an introductory chapter by Robert Wuthnow, James A. Beckford writes on Great Britain; Helmut K. Anheier, on West Germany; John Boli, on Sweden; Jack Veugelers and Michele Lamont, on France; Ted Perlmutter, on Italy; Eliezer D. Jaffe, on Israel; Helen Hardacre, on Japan; and David Harrington Watt, on the United States. A concluding chapter by Wuthnow addresses the changing character of public discourse in advanced industrial societies.
File created: 8/8/2015