Experiencing civil society : the reality of civil society in post-devolution Wales
Discussions about civil society have traditionally been concerned with its relationship to the state and the market. The last decade, however, has seen the concept being increasingly used by those involved in public policy formation, both on the right and left of the political spectrum. Linked to ideas concerning social capital', 'trust' and 'partnership' civil society has moved to centre stage in both academic and political debate. Despite a considerable body of social science literature about Wales, especially with regard to economic aspects and the political culture leading up to devolution, there are gaps in our knowledge regarding the organisation of 'social' Wales; the institutions, networks and relationships that comprise civil society. There is little published data on the form and impact o f civil society in Wales and yet assumptions about the nature, size and type of civil society abound. Essentially, this thesis provides a critical analysis o f some o f the main ideas and clichéd views that have come to be associated with civil society. The work provides a unique insight into how and why people form civil associations and traces the impact of these organisations on the local community. Additionally it investigates the impact of devolution and the involvement of civil society with the policy-making machinery of state. In this way, the study fills some of the gaps in our knowledge about civil society in Wales.