Much is said about Third Sector, but little is known about this term. The people have,

in general, only a few vague ideas: some associate with NGOs, others associate with

charity or with religious works. There are also those who associate the term Third Sector with the

services in the economy. This lack of knowledge is associated with the fact that there is still little

research on Third Sector in Brazil, and even that which exists, makes little mention of the

origins of the term and the research traditions to which it relates. But the fact is that there is a unanimous view that no government can meet the needs of all its citizens. For this it needs the effective participation of the organized society.

This is worrying when one realizes that there is a movement that proclaims the virtues of this

social sector, especially with regard to the replacement of the State in the provision of

public services or even in the elaboration of public policies.


It is with the intention of clarifying better what it means "Third Sector", that in this work

the origin of the term and the reasons why it prevailed - or at least

has prevailed - over other terms which, in general, designate the same phenomenon. In

The concept of the Third Sector elaborated for the purposes of Johns

Hopkins Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project and alternative approaches to this same


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