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'Third sector' and/or 'civil society': a critical discourse about scholarship relating to intermediate organisations

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Abstract:

In this article I argue that 'third sector' and 'civil society' represent two different, but mutually enhancing, research paradigms: one addressing decentralisation of public administration, the other the delegation of power from citizens to their state in a system of representative governance. Shifting back and forth between the two paradigms can provide a fuller understanding of intermediate organisations and induce a more encompassing managerial practice. If terms such as 'third sector' and 'civil society' are, however, used as interchangeable labels, paradigm shift turns into paradigm confusion. The blurring of boundaries will reduce the capacity of recognised scientific achievements to provide model solutions for management and policy.

Keywords: ASSOCIATIONAL DEMOCRACY; CIVIL SOCIETY; INTERMEDIATE ORGANISATIONS; THIRD SECTOR RESEARCH

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/204080512X658036

Publication date: November 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 (Trinity College, University of Dublin, Ireland), 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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