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Title: The power of ideas : the state-sector relationship in policy and practice
Author: Bennett, Ellen Katherine
ISNI:       0000 0004 7224 0636
Awarding Body: Sheffield Hallam University
Current Institution: Sheffield Hallam University
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis explores the relationship between the state and the voluntary sector as expressed within national documents and individual actor accounts. It is a response to the tendency within existing studies to cast voluntary sector organisations as passive in their context, responding to ideas from the central state rather than playing an active role in how and why particular ideas take hold. By first considering how the voluntary sector emerged as an object of policy, this thesis moves on to explore how both national texts and individual actors within organisations discursively present the role of the voluntary sector, the role of the state, and the relationship between the two. In order to explore this topic, this study uses a discursive methodology to consider the ideas within national documents and narratives of actors from Local Infrastructure Organisations (LIOs). This study drew on discursive approaches, such as discourse analysis, and sought to consider how and why ideas were constructed and used within different texts. This thesis contributes to knowledge in a number of ways. First, within the study of national policy documents, this thesis proposes an approach to bridging empirical studies of the societal and the micro levels of analysis, drawing on concepts of institutional logics and institutional message to demonstrate how national documents construct and convey institutional identity-cues for voluntary sector organisations. Second, within the study of the narrative of LIO actors, this study makes a series of contributions relating to the way we conceptualise what is happening at the organisational field level, linking the shifts in ideas at the societal level with the actor accounts of the implications of, and responses, to these shifting institutional logics. Third, the discursive analysis of actor accounts enables a consideration of the ways in which LIO actors are engaging in forms of identity work in order to align with, and distance from, voluntary sector identity-cues presented within national documents. These contributions are significant, particularly in light of debates surrounding the deepening austerity agenda, and associated cuts to services across communities in England. Such cuts have, at times, been presented within a narrative of the voluntary sector emerging to 'fill the gaps' and it is therefore important to start to understand how voluntary sector actors might be responding to such cues. This study therefore has implications for both sectors but also beneficiaries of both state and voluntary sector services, as it illuminates the way in which ideas are developing, and the way in which these ideas are reworked by actors at the local level.
Supervisor: Wells, Peter ; Coule, Tracey Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available