Theory and policy


TSRC explores the important theoretical and conceptual debates about the third sector, and provides informed and critical analysis of the policy context for the sector in the UK.

Theoretical analysis of the sector is important in underpinning our understanding of what the sector is and how it works. TSRC helps ensure that difficult theoretical issues are articulated and explored, including key concepts such as Civil Society and Voluntary Action. This strong theoretical and conceptual analysis helps to inform all of the Centre's research.

Critical understanding of the policy environment for the sector is also essential, as it determines much of what happens within the sector. We need to know ‘what works’, but we also need to understand who decides ‘what matters’.

Key questions

  • What is Civil Society?
  • What are the key challenges facing the third sector?
  • How is the policy environment changing?
  • Who are the key policy actors?
  • How do policy makers decide what matters?

Current work

Theory and policy work during the bridge funding period will focus on the following topics:

  • Exploration of distinctiveness and autonomy of the third sector, and its relationship to Civil Society.
  • Review of the devolved policy environment for the third sector in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • Analysis of developments in the policy environment in England, including the Big Society policy discourse.
  • Completion and publication of analysis of leadership within the sector, including who speaks for the sector and who they represent.

Research contacts

  • Pete Alcock
  • Angela Ellis Paine
  • Jeremy Kendall
  • Rob Macmillan