This paper examines the historical formation of non-profit organizations (NPOs) in Taiwan. The charity discourse has been dominated among NPOs due to the Confucian and Buddhist traditions in the early twentieth century and reinforced by Western Christian charity organizations during the U.S. aid in the Cold War period. During the Nationalist government period, NPO was a means of social control for the so-called strongman authoritarian state. The political democratization since the mid 1980s has initiated a process of rapid expansion for the NPO sector as a sign for the emerging civil society. NPOs aimed at administrative advocacy and legislative lobby mark the birth of an autonomous civil society. These NPOs adopt citizenship discourse in their formation of group identity. Cases are presented and discussed to illustrate the particularity of each stage. As NPOs become significant players in public domain, the tension and struggle between civil society and state apparatus increase. The privatization strategy of social services by the state may have the effect of re-colonizing civil society.
Asian Pacific Journal of Social Work and Development, Vol.17, No.1, pp.53-68.