The number of third sector and nonprofit organizations and the scope of their activity have increased rapidly over the last three decades; so have the recognition of their importance to society and their institutionalization. In Israel, however, there has been no public discussion of the place and unique social role of these organizations. We are not talking about individual organizations or a group of organizations in a specific area, but rather organizations that—despite their great heterogeneity and that of their areas of activity—share unique characteristics that enable them to be defined collectively as a sector, as is customary for two other sectors in the economy: the public sector and the business sector. This position paper not only argues that this is a sector with unique characteristics, but for the first time presents explanations for why this is the case as well as supporting arguments. These organizations, which manifest the ethos and civil essence that are their raison d’être and their ethical legitimation, constitute a separate sector: the civil sector.
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