Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Welfare state restructuring and the role of the social economy and the voluntary sector: Canadian Reflections at a time of austerity.

Institute for Research in the Social Sciences at the University of Ulster
Canadian Studies Research Programme

Welfare state restructuring and the role of the social economy and the voluntary sector: Canadian Reflections at a time of austerity.

Wednesday, 2nd February, 1.30 – 4.00pm
Loughview Suite
University of Ulster
Jordanstown Campus

Restructuring Canadian Civil Society, 1980 - 2010: How the Politics of Redistribution was muted
Susan D. Phillips
Professor, School of Public Policy and Administration
Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada
Visiting Fellow, University of Cambridge and ESRC Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy, Cass Business School

The political promise and perils of investing in civil society: state and third sector in Quebec
Deena White
Professor, Department of Sociology
University of Montreal

Rerouting Political Representation: Is Canada's social infrastructure in crisis?
Rachel Laforest
Associate Professor and head of Public Policy and Third Sector Initiative, School of Policy Studies, Queens University Kingston, Ontario
Visiting Professor, Trinity College Dublin

Dr Nick Acheson,
Institute for Research in the Social Sciences
University of Ulster

A sandwich lunch will be available
RSVP: N.Acheson@ulster.ac.uk

The current financial crisis is accelerating change in how welfare is organized, who is entitled to support and on what terms. The limits of the role of the state are set against the possibilities of voluntary action among citizens as relations between the state, market and civil society are fundamentally recast. Devolution and decentralizing administrative responsibilities, the offloading of service provision, and the upward delegation of policy orientation to transnational entities such as the EU and (for Ireland) the IMF, together with the rise of new public management, quasi-market administrative arrangements and network governance are all evoked as contributing to the “rebirth” of both an interest in civil society organizations (CSOs), and a renewed role for them in the way welfare policies are understood and delivered.

In the face of rapid change new forms of voluntarism are evident through the growth of the social economy and the emergence of hybrid organizations that combine commitments to public service, competitiveness and social value in new ways while new forms of citizen action are evoked through slogans such as the ‘big society’.

This seminar aims to review some of these issues for the future of the welfare state through Canadian eyes. It brings together three leading Canadian scholars in the field who combine a deep understanding of the Canadian experience with sensitivity towards its relevance to the UK, Ireland and other jurisdictions. Canada experienced its own austerity period in the 1990s which, together with more recent changes in Federal government policy have profoundly changed relationships between the state and civil society in English speaking Canada, whilst Quebec offers a different story that also contains insights for contemporary developments elsewhere.

The three Canadian papers will reflect on different aspects of this experience. They will be followed with a response seeking to draw out the central themes and the challenges posed to the UK and Irish experience in particular.

"With the assistance of the Government of Canada/avec l'aide du Gouvernement du Canada and The Foundation for Canadian Studies in the UK".

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