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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 2: Germany: On the Social Policy Centrality of the Free Welfare Associations

Annette Zimmer, Anja Appel, Claudia Dittrich, Birgit Sittermann and Freja Stallmann


Annette Zimmer, Anja Appel, Claudia Dittrich, Chris Lange, Birgit Sittermann, Freja Stallmann and Jeremy Kendall 2.1 Introduction In the social welfare domain – which constitutes the primary focus of this chapter – Germany has long been equipped with a strong and durable governance arrangement that links the third sector symbiotically with the state at federal and subnational levels.1 Unlike the UK and France – where the following chapters demonstrate that there are discrete and bounded third sector specialized policy communities consciously oriented towards differentiated third sector constructs (dominated respectively by the ‘voluntary sector’ and économie sociale collective nouns) – in Germany, the third sector has everywhere been built into the very fabric of the nation’s conservative and corporatist welfare state policy institutions. Of the European countries examined in this volume, the ones that also involve historically shaped structural integration and especially deep interdependency between sectors, are the Netherlands, and Sweden (see Chapters 7 and 8). However, as this chapter will evidence, the specific institutional form, scope, functionality and logic of this profound political embeddedness in Germany is dramatically different from these country cases. As we will demonstrate in what follows, in Germany, collective involvements pivotal cross cutting agenda-setting and policy-shaping roles are combined with long-standing contributions to delivering public services in a highly distinctive way. It has also been a matter of close state–third sector collaboration, both historically and currently, in owning, controlling and delivering a range of important public services. At the heart of this German state–third-sector welfare complex lie the...

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