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Big Society contractors? Big questions for voluntary organisations

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Abstract:

The experience of housing associations (HAs) has not been taken into account in many of the discussions about the transfer of responsibility for delivering public services from statutory bodies to voluntary agencies. This article addresses this omission by reviewing the recent history of the larger HAs. It addresses six key issues that might yield lessons for other voluntary organisations considering invitations to become mass service contractors in the 'Big Society': independence; user satisfaction and empowerment; the ability to tackle needs flexibly across the boundaries with other agencies; involvement in campaigning; recognition as part of civil society; and their ability to nurture the spirit of volunteering and giving. The article concludes by suggesting the questions that voluntary organisations should ask themselves before embracing the new role that is being urged on them.

Keywords: BIG SOCIETY; HOUSING ASSOCIATIONS; INDEPENDENCE; PUBLIC SERVICES; VOLUNTARY AGENCIES

Document Type: Regular Paper

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/204080512X632746

Publication date: March 1, 2012

More about this publication?
  • Voluntary Sector Review publishes high-quality, peer-reviewed, accessible papers on third sector research, policy and practice. It is an invaluable cutting-edge resource for all those researching or working in the fast-growing voluntary, community and wider third sectors.

    The journal covers the full range of issues relevant to voluntary sector studies, including: definitional and theoretical debates; management and organisational development; financial and human resources; philanthropy; volunteering and employment; regulation and charity law; service delivery; civic engagement; industry and sub-sector dimensions; relations with other sectors; social enterprise; evaluation and impact. Voluntary Sector Review covers voluntary sector studies from a variety of disciplines, including sociology, social policy, politics, psychology, economics, business studies, social anthropology, philosophy and ethics. The journal includes work from the UK and Europe, and beyond, where cross-national comparisons are illuminating. With dedicated expert policy and practice sections, Voluntary Sector Review also provides an essential forum for the exchange of ideas and new thinking.

    Rigorous and stimulating, Voluntary Sector Review is an indispensable tool for everyone who values empirically-grounded, theoretically-informed and policy-relevant reviews of the future direction of the voluntary sector.

    Editors: Nick Acheson (University of Ulster, UK), Bernard Harris (University of Strathclyde, UK), Rob Macmillan, (University of Birmingham, UK)

    The journal is published in association with the Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN) and a print copy of the journal is a membership benefit.

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