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Adalbert Evers, Justus Liebig-Universität Gießen Adalbert Evers The changing role of voluntary organisations as part of civil society and as welfare providers.

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Presentation on theme: "Adalbert Evers, Justus Liebig-Universität Gießen Adalbert Evers The changing role of voluntary organisations as part of civil society and as welfare providers."— Presentation transcript:

1 Adalbert Evers, Justus Liebig-Universität Gießen Adalbert Evers The changing role of voluntary organisations as part of civil society and as welfare providers Lecture given at the Conference The voluntary sector in the Nordic countries – Change agents and contract partners? Organized by the Centre for research on Civil Society and Voluntary Sector Bergen, 18.–20. May 2011

2 Adalbert Evers, Justus Liebig-Universität Gießen Introductory remarks Focus on impact of public policies First background assumption: compared to separate “third sector politics”, effects of changing overall policy orientations and actions in policy fields are more important Therefore look at key role of changes in societal and welfare discourses and their side effects on voluntary organisations Second background assumption: discourses are trans-national, however to be moulded in national “political spaces” where different political strategies, traditions and shape of present national political community play likewise a role Therefore: Scandinavian states different but concerned as well

3 Adalbert Evers, Justus Liebig-Universität Gießen Approach and structure of my intervention In a first part presenting (what I see as) major trans-national discourses on welfare and what they entail for voluntary organisations as welfare providers and organisations contributing to a civil society National and party politics of today have to be seen as ways of blending elements from these discourses in programs and strategies that aim at hegemony in a second part some selected “hot spots” of voluntary sector change resulting from the discourses and the changes in politics associated with them will be raised Facit: by these changes a kind of disorganisation of former framework and role for voluntary sector organisations (VSOs) is prevailing, but likewise new national compacts concerning voluntary organisations´ role could be prepared

4 Adalbert Evers, Justus Liebig-Universität Gießen PART I Discourses that influence thinking and politics on welfare, civil democracy and the voluntary sector (based on: Evers 2010) Overview on competing discourses across Europe and what they mean for VSOs change of roles – The inherited European Social Model – Empowerment & participation – the voice from the 1970´ – Consumerism – The activating social investment state

5 Adalbert Evers, Justus Liebig-Universität Gießen The inherited European Social Model Civil democracy and welfare Leitbild: a more equal society with a protecting state, protecting especially the weaker citizens VSOs as parts of civil society: Cultivating the virtues of solidarity, charity and benevolence among citizens; belonging to social movements and camps that crossed the state / society divide VSOs as welfare providers: gap filling / pioneering / complementary and/or part of corporatist clusters of public provisioned services Governing VSOs: arrangements stretch from limited paternalist support to introducing uniform standards in corporatist settings

6 Adalbert Evers, Justus Liebig-Universität Gießen Empowerment & participation – the voices from the 1970´ Civil democracy and welfare Leitbild: Strengthening devolution, a diversity of sources for welfare, voices of minorities and weak groups, participative democracy and multi-culturalism VSOs as parts of civil society: VSOs as breeding grounds for active citizenship, claims for participation and a civility, sensitive to personal needs and diversity VSOs as welfare providers: VSOs taking lead in advocacy, voice, well-tailored provision and innovation for new needs Governing VSOs: Public policies to be open for innovative nudges of social movements and VSOs voice; users as co-producers

7 Adalbert Evers, Justus Liebig-Universität Gießen Consumerism Civil democracy and welfare Leitbild: People as active consumer- citizens, supported by public policies and regulations in making their own choices as well on welfare markets VSOs as parts of civil society giving consumer citizens a strong voice in public debate - the best way of bringing about civility in largely commercialized service cultures VSOs as welfare providers: TSOs adding up to service choice and having a prior role only when it comes to social trouble spots Governing VSOs: Regulating social markets for choice-led personal services where VSOs get into fair competition with commercial providers

8 Adalbert Evers, Justus Liebig-Universität Gießen The activating social investment state Civil democracy and welfare Leitbild: Properly allocated and managed services and benefits that help to increase inclusion and competitiveness produce human capital VSOs as parts of civil society strengthening notions of civicness that involve obligations, and notions of a civility that involves proper self-conduct VSOs as welfare providers: TSOs as providers adding up community resources to social and private investments Governing VSOs: Systems of co-governance and intermediation aiming at public and private actors’ support for the government

9 Adalbert Evers, Justus Liebig-Universität Gießen PART I – a Facit: It is suggested to see history and presence of welfare as being shaped by politics that refer to the logics and repertoire of the o. a. discourses Think over what kind of traces e.g. the post 1968 discourse on empowerment and participation has left in your country, its welfare reforms and claims on VSOs made there actually Note that concepts of parties mix elements from these discourses – see e.g. the “lib-lab” compromises in the traditional welfare models, the attempts of “New Labour” or the “Big Society” concept for amalgamating the afore mentioned discourses The reconfigurations of political frameworks and of expectations concerning VSOs they entail, are important for explaining current “hot spots” of change

10 Adalbert Evers, Justus Liebig-Universität Gießen PART II “Hot spots” concerning voluntary sector change as brought about by changing government policies (largely based on Evers / Zimmer 2010) The impact of the choice - agenda as part of an emerging new welfare mainstream The impact of changes in the discourse on participation, volunteering and civil society The impact of new welfare governance by cross-sector programs A new compact missing but difficult to reach

11 Adalbert Evers, Justus Liebig-Universität Gießen The choice - agenda emerging as part of a new welfare mainstream For public authorities, a tension to deal with is between a traditional type of equality and a pluralism of provisions that should be infused with public concerns for equal chances; how much (local) variety should be allowed concerning public goods? By a swing towards state-regulated social markets, VSOs loose secured status as preferred or monopolistic service providers but “choice” may as well open up to them fields of former state/municipal public provision For VSOs as parts of civil society, extending choice may harm their role for “voice”, their other foundational component Former VSOs pushed to transform into consumer organisations competing by the quality of their customer services and less by political lobbying for citizen-consumers

12 Adalbert Evers, Justus Liebig-Universität Gießen The changes in the discourse on active participation, empowerment and civil society While the old discourse on participatory and empowering societal welfare was associated with issues of radicalizing democracy, questioning public and private power-relations, the new concerns with welfare & investments into competitiveness and activating have changed this The topic is nowadays more associated with readiness to volunteer, self restraint, concerns for the common good and often defined as a special property of voluntary organisations representing a “civil society sector” This is supportive for VSOs to the degree they act as “civil society specialists” mobilizing respective services and potentials It works negatively for VSOs when the big issue of government support for civil society and active citizenship shrinks to issues of appropriate VSO- funding

13 Adalbert Evers, Justus Liebig-Universität Gießen New welfare politics by cross-sector programs and networks A new generation of government programs for change: works with time limited programs, campaigns and funding, inviting public and private partners, seeking community support (see examples in: urban recovery, family policies, health promotion, programs for social inclusion etc.); VSOs as service providers – much requested but having to deal with insecure political and welfare markets, difficulties to raise decent income VSOs as parts of civil society –upgraded by the “activating” concern of governments, however within government dominated agendas (economic goals, harmonizing visions and search for publicity) of change making The approach of new joined up broad coalitions and networks of “good will”, give VSOs only the choice to be “in” or “out” and may harm the very logics of the political (i.e. to define barriers and adversaries)

14 Adalbert Evers, Justus Liebig-Universität Gießen A new compact missing but difficult to reach European states have lived with a mostly “implicit” compact about sharing responsibilities; the waning of their respective variant of the old social welfare model and new forms of welfare policies and governance have undermined these former compacts “en passant” New national welfare models/consensus are not yet in sight, but rather an often uneasy mix of a diversity of new practices and policies Beyond party politics, differences can be found between “pillarized” policy fields: e.g. employment policies with a strong managerial accent, policies for urban recovery with a high sensibility for VSOs, Given these circumstances new compacts may have difficulties to take shape anyway and to express something substantial beyond agreements on basics such as civility and mutual respect

15 Adalbert Evers, Justus Liebig-Universität Gießen Literature: Evers, Adalbert 2010: Civicness, civility and their meanings for social services, in T. Brandsen / P. Dekker / A. Evers (eds.): Civicness in the Governance and Delivery of Social Services. Baden-Baden: Nomos, Evers, Adalbert / Zimmer, Annette 2010: Third Sector Organisations as Service Providers and Elements of Social and Political Integration: Main Trends and Key Observation, in: A. Evers / A. Zimmer (eds.): Third Sector Organizations Facing Turbulent Environments. Sport, Culture and Social Services in Five European Countries. Baden-Baden: Nomos, (both publications emerged from the European Network of Excellence “Civil Society and New Forms of Governance in Europe, CINEFOGO)


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