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Welfare state reform, compacts and restructuring relations between the state and the voluntary sector: reflections on Northern Ireland's experience

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Policies that address the role and function of voluntary organisations horizontally across different government fields have been a feature of reforms in several welfare states to varying degrees since the end of the 1990s. This paper argues that the UK compact and its associated implementation measures have constituted a discourse that has enabled the state to radically reconstitute the role of the voluntary sector while holding out an unfulfilled promise of a broader shared understanding of the sector's role in society. Drawing on an analysis of policy development in Northern Ireland, the paper shows how well developed horizontal policy structures have served to redefine and narrow the field of engagement between the sector and government.
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Keywords: COMPACTS; NORTHERN IRELAND; VOLUNTARY SECTOR; WELFARE STATE REFORM

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 2010

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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.

    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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