Recent Developments and Future Directions
Edited by Myles McGregor-Lowndes and Kerry O’Halloran
Chapter 9: The Future of Civil Society Organisations: Towards a Theory of Regulation for Organised Civil Society
Jonathan Garton1 INTRODUCTION This chapter is a consideration of some rudimentary justifications for the state regulation of organised civil society as a cohesive economic sector. Despite flourishing bodies of literature on both civil society and regulation, such justifications have hitherto been largely overlooked, as there is little interaction between these disciplines, and it is particularly telling that the recent attempts to reform charity regulation which have taken place across much of the common law world have all been made on the assumption that regulation of organised civil society – specifically, regulation of the charitable sector – is justified. None of the bodies charged with drafting reform proposals in Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, New Zealand, Northern Ireland or Scotland, in their published findings at least, stepped back to consider whether this is indeed the case: the need for regulation was assumed, and all that was considered was the form that regulation should take. Yet this is an issue of the utmost importance given the scale of the sector and the nature of civil society activity. In Australia, for example, there are an estimated 700 000 nonprofit organisations, employing 604 000 people,2 and nonprofits with paid workforces have a combined income in the region of $33.5 billion, a figure rivalling both the communications and agriculture industries.3 Given the significant economic contributions made by civil society organisations (CSOs), and the social value of the activities they undertake, the questions of whether and when to regulate these organisations demand serious consideration. With this in mind,...
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