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Handbook on Third Sector Policy in Europe

Multi-level Processes and Organized Civil Society

Edited by Jeremy Kendall

While scholarship on the social, economic and political contributions of organisations existing between the market and the state has proliferated in recent years, no sustained attention has previously been paid to how such organisations are collectively treated by, and respond to, public policy. The expert contributors examine the policy environment for, and evolving policy treatment of, the third sector in the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom from a comparative perspective. They also look at how the third sector relates to multi-level European policy processes, including the Open Method of Co-ordination, the Community Method, nationally-led ‘partnership’ approaches within an overall EU framework and the United Nations International Year of Volunteering; an initiative implemented in the EU but originating externally.
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Chapter 1: Terra Incognita: Third Sectors and European Policy Processes

Jeremy Kendall


Jeremy Kendall 1.1 Introduction Over recent years, policy-makers in Europe – within many individual countries, and at the level of transnational institutions, including the European Union – have increasingly turned to (or, in a certain sense, returned to1) organizations between the market and the state in seeking to identify, manage or solve a plethora of economic, social and political problems. These institutions – which we will collectively refer to as comprising a ‘third sector’ in the pages that follow – are now charged, inter alia, with enhancing the efficiency and fairness of public service access and delivery (6 and Kendall, 1997); nurturing social solidarities for the public good (Evers and Laville, 2003); and strengthening the legitimacy of political authorities, by acting as an important mechanism for the expression of citizenship, and the facilitation of democratic participation (Kymlicka, 2002, ch. 7; Ginsborg, 2005). In Europe, this interest has been driven by a wide range of factors and forces: political events, including the fall of communism and the concomitant ‘rediscovery’ of civil society in East Central Europe; worries about the increasingly evident failures and limitations of the market and the state in meeting social welfare needs; economic malaise, including the persistence of high unemployment, and the search for ‘governance’ partners from all parts of society to help tackle this awful blight; the existence of pervasive social exclusion and poverty, despite the relative affluence of European societies; and worries about the patterns of political disengagement witnessed at both national and transnational levels in the region. As expectations...

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