History of membership associations, volunteering and the voluntary nonprofit sector

Harris, Bernard and Morris, Andrew and Ascough, Richard and Chikoto, Grace and Elson, Peter and McLoughlin, John and Muukonen, Martti and Pospíšilová, Tereza and Roka, Krishna and Smith, David Horton and Soteri-Proctor, Andri and Tumanova, Anastasiya and Soteri-Proctor, Andri and Yu, Pengjie; Horton Smith, David and Stebbins, Robert A. and Grotz, Jurgen, eds. (2016) History of membership associations, volunteering and the voluntary nonprofit sector. In: The Palgrave Handbook of Volunteering, Civic Participation, and Nonprofit Associations. Palgrave Macmillan Ltd., London. ISBN 978-1-137-26316-2

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This chapter examines the history of the topics in its title, emphasizing the history of associations. Membership associations have been the most common type of nonprofit organization (NPO) in human history and remain so still today in all countries. Voluntary/nonprofit agencies with paid staff serving nonmembers and the general public are very recent social inventions, as are Volunteer Service Programs (see Chapter 29) and the voluntary sector concept. The chapter is structured around major historical periods in which associations have existed, beginning about 10,000 years ago, when many human societies settled down in villages from being small, nomadic, hunter-gathering bands. Thus, we discuss associations in (1) preliterate horticultural societies, (2) ancient agrarian societies, (3) recent pre-industrial societies, and (4) industrial and post-industrial societies.