Purchasing Services: The Public Interest and Common Goods in Welfare Society

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Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Social Work


The paper is divided into three parts: The next part, places the historical emergence of the nonprofit sector and the social agency as a nonprofit corporation within the transformation from a colonial mercantilist economy and government of aristocratic great households and public subsidy through a laissez faire period of minimal public-private partnership to a contemporary mixed economy of business firms, social agencies and other nonprofit organizations. The second part identifies three unintended consequences of the mixed economy of purchase of human service contracting: the emergence of personal care systems for the aged, chronically mentally ill, developmentally disabled, and children; the creation of an entirely new class of nonprofit firm; and the creation of state-level political constituencies for public human service agencies. Finally, post-colonial laissez-faire doctrines of government are tied to the rise of the voluntary sector in the late 19th century.

Source Citation

Paper presented at The General Welfare and Common Goods in the 1990s: Partnerships in the Purchase of Services. The First Annual Nonprofit Management Academy Research Conference. Morgantown, WV. December 12, 1990.

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