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The Less-Known History of the Voluntary Sector in an East Asian Welfare Regime: A South Korean Case

Department of Social Welfare, Seoul National Unversity


Although the voluntary sector is internationally valued as an integral component of the welfare mix, studies on East Asian welfare regimes have primarily focused on state-market-family interactions, paying scant attention to the long-standing and pivotal role of voluntary agencies in their construction. This case study illuminates this less-known aspect of modern welfare history in the context of South Korea, with a particular focus on the activities of voluntary organizations. The study categorizes South Korean voluntary associations into four types and examines their different contributions in shaping South Korea’s welfare regime, by applying Young’s framework on government–voluntary organizations relations. This historical exploration on the South Korean voluntary sector aims to deepen understanding of an East Asian welfare state regime. It further suggests that

current welfare mix debates, focusing on the service delivery role of voluntary organizations within Western European welfare states, should be broadened.

Keywords: voluntary organizations, welfare mix, welfare regime, East Asia

Nonprofit Policy Forum (Vol. 10, No. 1). De Gruyter.

DOI: 10.1515/npf-2018-0028

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