Article Information


Elena Iarskaia-Smirnova a (, Olga Bodrova b

a International Laboratory for Social Integration Research, HSE University, Moscow Russia

b HSE University, Moscow Russia

Citation: Iarskaia-Smirnova E., Bodrova O. (2021) Modeli legitimatsii nekommercheskikh organizatsiy kak postavshchikov sotsial'nykh uslug [Models of legitimation of non-profit organizations as social service providers]. Zhurnal sotsiologii i sotsialnoy antropologii [The Journal of Sociology and Social Anthropology], 24(1): 45–78 (in Russian).

Abstract. The article presents a reflection of various approaches to explaining the legitimacy of socially oriented non-profit organizations (SONPOs): market orientation, social capital, institutional logic, emotional commitment, traditionalist attitudes, critical model. The analysis is based on theoretical sources, published results of relevant empirical studies, evidence from the Internet resources of non-profit organizations and mass media. SONPO legitimation models include normative justifications of the existing policies and practices in relation to such organizations. Following the rules of a market economy, SONPOs function, on the one hand, as autonomous entities, and on the other, as complementary to and controlled by the state institutions. The reforming social service systems in the regions are characterized by varying degrees of involvement of non-profit providers. Thus, the consideration of questions of legitimacy in specific institutional contexts is required. It is shown that although the market affiliation of SONPOs partly increases their readiness for the challenges of the external environment, the low level of public and institutional trust makes them vulnerable in front of the more powerful and resource-provided competitors. The uneven growth of trust in various forms of public associations is determined at the macro level by reforms in the social sphere, while different subjects of partnership in the social sphere have different arguments for legitimizing the non-profit providers. Legitimation is becoming an individual and collective upward mobility project for the non-profit social service providers. In the process of legitimization, the non-profit providers of social services are assigned with characteristics defined by the legislation, indicators of ratings and assessments, discussed in the communities of NPOs and mass media. Organizations strive to meet the requirements and public expectations in terms of market efficiency, embeddedness in a local context, affective and value congruence with donors and target groups, partnerships with government agencies. At the same time, SONPOs are expected to be flexible enough in order to maneuver between the expectations of different stakeholders and weave different logics into their organizational identity.

Keywords: legitimacy, socially oriented non-profit organizations, social service providers.


This work/article is an output of a research project implemented as part of the Basic Research Program at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE University). The authors express their gratitude to the anonymous reviewer and the editors of the journal for their valuable comments and recommendations.


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