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Voluntary sector in transitionHard times or new opportunities?$
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Linda Milbourne

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781847427236

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847427236.001.0001

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The Voluntary Sector: Contested or Strategic Ground?

The Voluntary Sector: Contested or Strategic Ground?

(p.1) One The Voluntary Sector: Contested or Strategic Ground?
Voluntary sector in transition

Linda Milbourne

Policy Press

This chapter explains the rationale and relevance of the book within contemporary social policy research and introduces its main themes. It discusses the scope and range of purposes among voluntary organisations highlighting enormous diversity in aims, activities and organisation. It also considers contested definitions around the voluntary sector, from which challenges in naming and categorisation ensue. The chapter argues that the current construction of the voluntary sector owes much to shifts in political ideology and social welfare policies over the last century, giving rise to questions about its independence, a theme that pervades later chapters. It is tempting to conflate ideas of a voluntary (or third) sector with the New Labour government's Third Way ideology since 1997 - an alternative to state and market – but the history of state-voluntary sector relationships is a long one, with lessons that offer insights into recent conditions and future directions. The final section of the chapter outlines the themes of subsequent chapters and the theoretical and policy debates which frame them.

Keywords:   Ideology, Non-profit, Charity, Third sector, Contested definition, Independence

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