Voluntary action and the state in historical perspective

Harris, Bernard (2010) Voluntary action and the state in historical perspective. Voluntary Sector Review, 1 (1). pp. 25-40.

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Abstract

New Labour has encouraged the development of a 'partnership' between the statutory and voluntary sectors in which both sides are expected to work together to improve welfare provision. However, if the voluntary sector has always sought a partnership with the state, it is important to ask how this partnership has changed over time and may change in the future. This paper examines the relationship between the two sectors over the last two centuries. It begins by discussing the role played by the voluntary sector and the history of statutory–voluntary relations during the 19th century. It then examines the development of the 'new philanthropy' in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, before considering the voluntary sector's response to the expansion of state welfare provision after 1945. The final section summarises the paper's main arguments and compares Labour and Conservative attitudes to the role of voluntary social provision before the 2010 General Election.