A ‘new institutional fix’? The ‘community turn’ and the changing role of the voluntary sector

Rob Macmillan and Alan Townsend

in Landscapes of voluntarism

Published by Policy Press

Published in print June 2006 | ISBN: 9781861346322
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447302650 | DOI:
A ‘new institutional fix’? The ‘community turn’ and the changing role of the voluntary sector

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This chapter explores how policies for regenerating deprived areas and tackling different aspects of social exclusion in the UK have taken a ‘community turn’ which embraces an enhanced role for the voluntary and community sector. It discusses three major tools of the ‘community turn’ at local level, i.e., governance, partnership and capacity building, to explore how relationships between local government and voluntary organisations are being reshaped. One key to the ‘community turn’ is that central government found from experience that its spending on regeneration activity proved wasted if the local community were not thoroughly involved. Local community activists involved in such decision making may be working with larger voluntary organisations, local government, and the private sector. It argues that the emergence of an enhanced role for the sector can fruitfully be seen as part of an attempted ‘institutional fix’ in a broader project to restructure the postwar welfare state in an era of fiscal constraint. The chapter concludes by considering the broader geographical consequences of the ‘community turn’ for voluntarism and for the changing ‘postnational’ welfare state. It is suggested that the ‘community turn’ involves specific constructions of space, scale and temporality, which not only have important consequences for the shape and structure of the emerging welfare state, but also for the construction of a differentiated voluntary and community sector.

Keywords: community turn; institutional fix; UK; governance; partnership; capacity building; voluntarism; welfare state; space; scale; temporality

Chapter.  7984 words. 

Subjects: Organizations

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