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Micro-mapping: what lies beneath the third sector radar?

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Academic and policy discussion of the third sector has increasingly come to recognise the importance of locating and understanding the organised activity that is not captured by sources dependent on existing registration and member lists of organisations – sometimes referred to as 'below-the-radar' activity. Research to identify such organised activity requires the development and implementation of innovative methods to search beneath the radar and map what is found. This article reports on research carried out using a 'micro-mapping' approach in two urban locations in England. This revealed a wide range of organisations that had not been captured by more traditional methods and found that they were engaged in a variety of activities providing distinctive services and support within their local communities. The research also revealed the critical role played by community bricoleurs and community hubs in supporting and sustaining many of these organisations. We conclude that this has important implications for research (in developing a new methodology for micro-mapping) and for policy (in revealing the range and structure of 'below-the-radar' activity).
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 2012

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  • 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.

    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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