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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 5: The Third Sector and the Policy Process in Italy: Between Mutual Accommodation and New Forms of (Blurred) Partnership

Costanzo Ranci, Mauro Pellegrino and Emmanuele Pavolini


Costanzo Ranci, Mauro Pellegrino and Emmanuele Pavolini 5.1 Introduction The third sector1 in Italy has become visible and active at many different levels (national, regional and local) and in many different fields, acting both as a service provider for public authorities and as a political actor in terms of advocacy. Even though we can trace its rise in Italy back to the nineteenth century, or even before, the sector per se has only relatively recently acquired acute policy relevance. In the 1970s voluntary action and organizations received a fresh impetus from the rise (and fall) of social movements (De Ambrogio et al., 1991). The 1980s saw the first attempts to structure the sector, both in terms of an increasing number of organizations and their preparedness to act in Italian society. The 1990s witnessed even broader and deeper structural changes and the first real political recognition of the sector’s role as an actor in debates on public policy in a variety of social policy areas, including social care, employment, and policies for tackling social exclusion (Pavolini, 2003). Five per cent of the Italian population are directly involved in some non-profit activity, paid or otherwise. Other key features of the Italian third sector in 1999 (the most recent year on which comprehensive data are available for the sector) are shown in Table 5.1. The table summarizes key indicators in relation to the 221,412 non-profit organizations (NPOs) in question across the country in terms of legal forms and economic activity. We also...

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