The Third Sector in Europe

The Third Sector in Europe

Globalization and Welfare series

Edited by Adalbert Evers and Jean-Louis Laville

This book explores Europe’s third sector – the non-profit organisations and providers of social services such as mutuals, co-operatives, associations, voluntary organisations and charities: these elements of a civil society are important yet often overlooked features in contemporary socio-economics and social policy.

Chapter 8: The state and the third sector in modern welfare states: independence, instrumentality, partnership

Jane Lewis

Subjects: economics and finance, welfare economics, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, economics of social policy


Jane Lewis The idea that social welfare systems encompass more than state provision had to be rediscovered in the last quarter of the twentieth century, but is now well established in the literature. However, the approach to ‘welfare mixes’ (Evers and Svetlik, 1993) differs considerably between different networks of academics and commentators. In the English speaking literature, the most common conceptualization has been the ‘mixed economy of welfare’, which emphasizes, first, the range of providers of welfare (the state, the market, employers, the family and the third sector) and, second, the increasingly plural sources of finance for social provision (for example, Johnson, 1998). However, in Evers’s original formulation of a ‘welfare mix’, issues of politics and governance were also prominent. The mixed economy approach tends to identify which element dominates a particular kind of social provision, the underlying assumption being that they are alternatives, albeit that there is increasing recognition in the United Kingdom of the extent to which it is profoundly difficult to sort out the precise nature of the public and private mix (that is, state and market) of finance and provision in respect of health, education or pensions (for example, Burchardt et al., 1999). However, when political issues are added, it becomes yet more difficult to keep the different elements in the welfare mix in their separate boxes as alternative providers and financers. In respect of the third sector, the whole issue of its place vis-à-vis the state, for example, becomes more complicated. As Deakin (2001,...

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