The Government – Voluntary Sector Compacts: Governance, Governmentality and Civil Society

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In 1998 government and the main representatives of the voluntary sector in each of the four countries in the United Kingdom published "compacts" on relations between government and the voluntary sector. These were joint documents, carrying forward ideas expressed by the Labor Party when in opposition, and directed at developing a new relationship for partnership with those "not-for-profit organizations" that are involved primarily in the areas of policy and service delivery. This article seeks to use an examination of the compacts, and the processes that produced them and that they have now set in train, to explore some of the wider issues about the changing role of government and its developing relationships with civil society. In particular, it argues that the new partnership builds upon a movement from welfarism to economism which is being developed further through the compact process. Drawing upon a governmentality approach, and illustrating the account with interview material obtained from some of those involved in compact issues from within both government and those umbrella groups which represent the voluntary sector, an argument is made that this overall process represents the beginning of a new reconfiguration of the state that is of considerable constitutional significance.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationVoices, Spaces and Processes in Constitutionalism
EditorsC. Harvey, J. Shaw, J. Morison
Number of pages35
Publication statusPublished - 2000


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