Handbooks of Research on Public Policy series
Chapter 33: State–third sector partnership frameworks: from administration to participation?
In developed societies, the well-being of elderly people depends not only on their access to retirement provisions and public facilities, but also on support provided by organizations that are both (formally) independent from the state and bound to a mission other than increasing the income of their owners. As these organizations operate outside the typical public and market sectors, they are widely referenced as belonging to a ‘third sector’ in which groups of citizens join voluntarily for the pursuit of a common purpose and make decisions democratically. True, this mode of collective action in itself does not imply that the well-being of larger sections of the population is enhanced. Nor do activities run by nonprofits or voluntary agencies automatically address expectations of wider society since they can also be formed for defense of privileges and a group’s self-interest alone. Throughout modern history, however, social support to elderly people has been arranged by this type of organization in the first instance, although some activities became endorsed by the welfare state during the twentieth century. In many nation states, it was indeed through partnerships between third sector organizations and public bodies that the well-being of the elderly was (to be) fostered.
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