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Darryn Jensen

This chapter reflects on where the distinction might lie between the not-for-profit sector and government. Drawing on legal and social history reaching back to mediaeval England, the chapter makes the important point that the not-for-profit sector cannot be distinguished from government based on the nature of the purposes that are pursued within it; rather, the distinction must lie in the voluntary means by which not-for-profits organize and operate and the coercive means by which government does so. The chapter then turns to the intellectual history of the idea of civil society, and develops an argument that government, as a form of association, ought to choose the scope of its operations with sensitivity to the ways in which smaller, more local, associations may do a better job. Finally, the chapter considers the complexities that unsettle the distinction between the not-for-profit sector and government where not-for-profit organizations are controlled financially and in other ways by government.