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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 11: European Social Fund Local Social Capital Pilots and Mainstreamed Global Grants: On the Troubled Trajectory of Third Sector Policy Transfer

Isabel Crowhurst and Jeremy Kendall


Isabel Crowhurst and Jeremy Kendall 11.1 Introduction Of all the multi-level cases examined in Part II of this volume, the one that looked most likely to result in a real and potentially lasting impact for a potentially wide range of third sector organizations and processes was the ‘local social capital’ programme. There are several reasons for this. First, the basic generic European Social Fund (ESF) governance structures within which the new programme was to be nested were relatively well established across Europe. Moreover, several large countries, including Britain and Germany, had long traditions of working with third sector groups in ESF-related policy processes. Second, both pilot and mainstream phases, by the nature of the intervention, involved commitment of modest but not insignificant financial resources from public authorities (mediated first directly by the EU’s Brussels-based bureaucracy, and then by regional public bodies under guidance from higher levels). In addition, a key principle of the scheme was to reach large numbers of smaller NGOs, ensuring that even a limited budget would be stretched quite far. Third, unlike other initiatives that had no clear theoretical or well-rehearsed policy premise, framed as a productive investment in ‘social capital’ the scheme considered here seemed to involve a socially-oriented commitment to building relationships in marginalized communities, which could be economically justified too, as well as resonating rather well with current fashionable policy and political preoccupations (Putnam, 1995). As we will see below, these ideas in the late 1990s were the subject of considerable enthusiasm from a...

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