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Complying, Transforming or Resisting in the New Austerity? Realigning Social Welfare and Independent Action among English Voluntary Organisations



This paper considers implications for the English voluntary sector of recent shifts in the terms of engagement with the state following rapid political and policy changes under the UK Coalition government. It explores how ideas of what constitutes the voluntary sector are being reconstructed in policy and practical settings, examining processes contributing to re-shaping the voluntary sector's conception of itself and beliefs about legitimate activities and aspirations. It draws on theories of institutional isomorphism and governmentality to explore these changes which appear to be modifying and restricting the voluntary sector's role in social welfare, limiting its influence and its ability to act simultaneously within and against the state. The paper argues the integral role of the state in recasting the roles of different sectors but also discusses the extent to which voluntary sector compliance is necessary to ensure organisational survival, asking what spaces exist for independent activity and resistance.



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Journal of Social Policy
  • ISSN: 0047-2794
  • EISSN: 1469-7823
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