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This practice paper reflects on the experience of delivering leadership development for the voluntary sector through open-access online learning. We outline key elements of learning design and explore the potential and challenges of widening access to leadership development through this form of learning. We note the importance of aligning the conceptualisation of the leadership approach to learning and the principles of open access. The paper ends by offering insights for leadership development practitioners.

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The issue of leaders’ influence has not received much attention in civil society studies, classical leadership literature on the voluntary sector and elite research. This article explores self-representations of the different kinds of status and influence among Italian third sector leaders. It is based on 35 interviews with the leaders of major Italian third sector organisations and on an analysis of the self-representations of their status and influence and representations of their civil society colleagues. Following a critical anthropological perspective, it argues that a qualitative investigation of the different forms of influence can help to broaden scholarly understanding of the growing power stratification in the third sector and the elements that seem to be required for being considered a key leader actor or a civil society elite.

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Background:

The emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic has required a rapid acceleration of policy decision making, and raised a wide range of ethical issues worldwide, ranging from vaccine prioritisation, welfare and public health ‘trade-offs’, inequalities in policy impacts, and the legitimacy of scientific expertise.

Aims and objectives:

This paper explores the legacy of the pandemic for future science-advice-policy relationships by investigating how the UK government’s engagement with ethical advice is organised institutionally. We provide an analysis of some key ethical moments in the UK Government response to the pandemic, and institutions and national frameworks which exist to provide ethical advice on policy strategies.

Methods:

We draw on literature review, documentary analysis of scientific advisory group reports, and a stakeholder workshop with government ethics advisors and researchers in England.

Findings:

We identify how particular types of ethical advice and expertise are sought to support decision making. Contrary to a prominent assumption in the extensive literature on ‘governing by expertise’, ethical decisions in times of crisis are highly contingent.

Discussion and conclusions:

The paper raises an important set of questions for how best to equip policymakers to navigate decisions about values in situations characterised by knowledge deficits, complexity and uncertainty. We conclude that a clearer pathway is needed between advisory institutions and decision makers to ensure ethically-informed debate.

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Background:

Research impact is at least partly generated through collaborative interactions, yet the associations between knowledge production and impact are far more complex than relatively simple linear models generally describe.

Aims and objectives:

In this case study, we focus on a community-university partnership and try to answer the question, ‘What are the conditions that facilitate or hinder successful collaborative interactions aimed towards solving a shared challenge between partners from different organisations?’

Methods:

A set of four co-creation sessions with diverse stakeholders was organised with the aim of tackling the nuisance caused by youth in a specific deprived neighbourhood in Belgium. The sessions were video-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analysed following a Grounded Theory (GT) approach to develop theoretical understandings of the process of knowledge production and research impact.

Findings:

Roles and mandates of individual stakeholder representatives determine (and hinder) their access to (confidential) information, but also their visibility and accessibility towards youth as end users. Achieving positive outcomes through collaboration was perceived by stakeholders as slowly evolving towards small successes, and was facilitated by being able to accept failure, working in a climate of trust, developing a shared identity, managing expectations, informally sharing information, and being able to connect with youth.

Discussion and conclusions:

We reflect on the importance of overcoming organisational asymmetries in collaborative interactions through installing feedback loops, and through the particular roles of boundary organisations, boundary objects, and practical tools that can help steer iterative collaborative interactions towards positive impact.

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Author: Sophie Thunus

Background:

Meetings are essential events for the production of a policy. Yet they are largely taken for granted in policy studies: they are perceived as tools for achieving predefined tasks and used as a means of studying other topics, such as public participation.

Aims and objectives:

I aim to study meetings themselves and to develop the concept of meeting in brackets, which helps understand how meetings produce the policy to which they relate. I focus on a Belgian mental health policy supporting a shift from hospital to community mental healthcare.

Methods:

Qualitative methods, including direct observation of 77 meetings and interviews, were combined over an eight-year period in order to comprehensively understand the relationship between meetings and policy production.

Findings:

The Belgian mental health policy gradually emerged from meetings that took place at international, national and local levels. As a result of references made by the participants to previous meetings or to the resulting documents, these meetings gradually formed a web, outside of which the Belgian mental health policy cannot be understood.

Discussion and conclusions:

The concept of meeting in brackets led to define meetings as communicative events framed by decisions about meeting structure, which I call bracketing decisions. These decisions facilitate a form of communication described as reflexive. Reflexive communication in turn leads to a collective creation: a unique vision of the policy under discussion. Such unique visions are gradually assembled as meetings succeed each other, thus forming a web of meetings which is inherent to policy production.

Open access

Internationally, many care-recipients and unpaid carers are not receiving the services they need to live full and independent lives, representing substantial social injustice. We explored unmet need and inequalities in receipt of long-term care services in England. Methods comprised in-depth interviews and secondary analysis of UK Household Longitudinal Study dyad data from 2017/2019. We found widespread unmet need for services overall and inequalities by sex, ethnicity, income, and area deprivation. Aspects of long-term care policy, service delivery, people’s material resources, and constrained and unconstrained choice all played a role.

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Author: Abi Woodward

This article explores how the Islamic principles underpinning zakat and sadaqah aid the development of localised informal support networks in an English city. The article draws on interviews conducted with Pakistani Muslim men and women living in areas of high deprivation. Participants self-identified as a ‘community’ that was multigenerational yet built largely on traditional and conventional Muslim practices. Presenting empirical data that demonstrate the existence of Muslim philanthropic activity, participants provide their own interpretations of zakat and sadaqah while making a distinction between ‘charity’ and more general ‘good deeds’. The findings address a gap in knowledge surrounding the role that informal support plays in supporting Pakistani Muslims in Britain who possess a lower socioeconomic status. The data reveal that the motivations surrounding engagement in informal support have consequences for (dis)engagement with some formal welfare support services.

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This article explores the third sector’s role during the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the experiences of disabled people in England and Scotland. It draws on semi-structured longitudinal interviews with 71 disabled people and 31 key informants, primarily from disabled people’s organisations. The third sector’s nimble response, supporting people in myriad innovative ways, emerged as a key finding. In contrast, statutory services were experienced by many as a barrier rather than an enabler, posing doubts about the state’s ability to respond to the crisis. Our findings raise questions about the role of the state and the third sector. We employ and critique Young’s typology of sector–state relations, concluding that the state needs to engage with the third sector as an equal and strategic partner, recognising its civil society credentials. Further, we raise questions about the appropriateness of using supply and demand models to understand the third sector’s societal role.

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How is life in social isolation seen from the viewpoint of people who experience persistent poverty? Given the systemic denial of self-representational agency from those living in poverty and the neoliberalisation of the welfare state, this article turns to those who remained invisible to either the media or the state during the pandemic. In line with current tendencies to prioritise the voice and lived knowledge of people in poverty, we provided our interlocutors with a specifically designed diary tool to allow them to share their mundane experiences and thoughts at their own discretion. Using these diaries of women and men in poverty, and complementary interviews, this article unpacks the ways our participants deal with and understand their everyday relationships with the absent state, mostly welfare and education. Based on the themes that emerged from our interlocutors’ journals, our findings reveal the Janus-faced abandoning/monitoring state that they routinely confront. We then demonstrate how they are constantly chasing the state, struggling to receive the support they lawfully deserve. At the same time, being subjected to practices of state monitoring and surveillance often results not only in mistrust but also in withdrawing almost altogether from the welfare services and social workers, and turning to alternative support networks. We conclude by offering two insights that accentuate, on the one hand, what we and our diarists already know, namely that they count for nothing. Still, on the other hand, the act of self-documentation itself reveals the representational agency of those brave diarists who refuse to forsake their worthiness as citizens.

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Muslim community-based health organisations (MCBHOs) represent a new wave of non-profit organisations outside of mosques and Islamic community centres. In this article we examine MBCHOs’ core management competencies because they are instantiations of institutional logics, which result in different forms of organisational hybridity within the third sector. Theoretically, we focus on the instantiations that are associated with a societal institutional logic (religion) and two organisational field logics (voluntarism and healthcare). Empirically, we draw from a survey, maps, tax filings and strategic plans. We observed convergences in financial and human resource management and divergences in community engagement and patient assessment among 110 MCBHOs located in the United States. Volunteering and patient care hold the meaning of faith. Our findings suggest that most MCBHOs resemble an assimilated hybrid, characterised by managerial practices that adhere to the core logics of healthcare and voluntarism, with traces of the Islamic religious logic. We thus introduce the concept of ‘faithwashing’.

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