Voluntas, volume 34, Issue 6

VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations

Official journal of the International Society for Third-Sector Research

Comparative Civil Society and Third Sector Research in Voluntas
Bruna de Morais Holanda, Hyoeun Kim & Susan Appe


At the 2022 ISTR 15th International Conference “Navigating in Turbulent Times: Perspectives and Contributions from the Third Sector” in Montreal, Canada, founding Voluntas editor Helmut Anheier summarized a continuous key challenge of third sector studies: conducting cross-national, comparative research. This very topic started on the pages of Voluntas from the journal’s inception in 1990. We intend to use this virtual issue of Voluntas to explore the comparative approaches to third sector research that have developed in the journal. Voluntas was and remains a major outlet for considering civil society and the third sector in comparative perspective. However, just as recent as 2021, former Voluntas editors Ruth Simsa and Taco Brandsen (2021) noted that cross-national research in Voluntas was still “rare” (p. 2), calling on the field to engage in more comparative work.

This virtual issue introduction has two main objectives. First, we conduct an outline of comparative discussions as they unfolded in Voluntas, complementing Anheier’s recent editorial about the progress of comparative research (Part 1). Second, in the spirit of encouraging further comparative research in the field, we highlight exemplar comparative articles in Voluntas which make theoretical and methodological contributions, and which employ a range of qualitative and quantitative comparative approaches (Part 2).

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