When well functioning national welfare states are put under pressure, also the tasks of civic society and citizens' mutual responsibility are being re-defined. Hence, the significance of the civic society organisations in one of the most successful and stable circumstances of welfare states - in Northern Europe - is of great interest. This publication gives a first comprehensive overview of existing research on civic society organisations in the area of welfare services in the five Nordic countries. Besides a comparative Nordic analysis, focussed national contributions are provided. Finally, leading European researchers connect the Nordic debate in to a stimulating European context. How far are the Nordic welfare traditions still of significance, since all welfare states are similarly challenged by the global market economy? Can welfare organisations provide opportunities even for the most vulnerable groups to achieve full citizenship?