Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research, Data & Methods
Sefydliad Ymchwil Gymdeithasol ac Economaidd, Data a Dulliau Cymru

Navigation :: Home> Training and Events> Seminar Series> Previous Seminar Series> Civil Society Seminar Series 2015

Civil Society Seminar Series 2015

The 2015 WISERD Seminar Seriess reflects the rich diversity of projects comprising WISERD's Civil Society programme. Drawing on a range of qualitative and quantitative data analysis techniques and engaging with a varied aspects of social theory they encompass: perceptions and attitudes to Street Pastors in relation to formal policing and community safety; the social processes underpinning the relationships between mass higher education and the structuring of the local social relations of civil society; civil society and differences in human rights discourses across the constituent parts of the UK; third sector organisations and public policy-making in a devolved Wales; civil society, generativity and the third age; analysis of how changes around devolution have provided opportunities for trade unions to influence governmental decision making.

The seminars are aimed at all with an interest in the key issues and policy challenges facing civil society in the twenty-first century.


1st Seminar: Cardiff Street Pastors: A Case Study

Presenters: Dr Nick Johns (Cardiff University) and Dr Alison Green (Glyndŵr University)
Chair:Dr Paul Chaney
Date: 29th April 2015, Main Building, Council Chamber, Cardiff
Times: 5.30pm – 6.30 pm

This seminar will provide an overview of a multi-faceted, multi-method research project incorporating the views of Street Pastors, key stake holders and decision makers, students and members of the general public in the night time economy (NTE). Capturing the views of those actually engaging with the Street Pastors in the NTE constitutes a significant step forward in understanding the role they play in that economy. The research explores the perceptions and attitudes of these different actors about the role of the Street Pastors in relation to formal policing and community safety. One important theme to emerge was the impact Street Pastors make to general feelings of 'safety' and 'security' in these ‘client’ groups.

This case study forms a small part of the work on faith and social cohesion from Work Package 3.4 of WISERD's Civil Society ESRC grant).


To register for this event please click here.


2nd Seminar: Universities and the Structuring of Civil Society: The Transition from Elite to Mass Higher Education

Presenters:Professor Gareth Rees and Professor Chris Taylor (Cardiff University)
Chair:Dr Paul Chaney
Date:14th May 2015, Main Building, Council Chamber, Cardiff
Times: 5.30pm – 6.30pm

The expansion of universities across the UK since the middle part of the twentieth century has been one of the most profound institutional changes of this period. The shift from what has been termed an ‘elite system’ of higher education (HE) to a ‘mass system’ has had major consequences for state policies. However little is known about the social processes underpinning the relationships between mass HE and the structuring of the local social relations of civil society. Accordingly, this seminar presentation will examine implications of this shift for the structuring of civil society. Inter alia, it considers the extent to which graduates continue to play distinctive roles in local civil society – and how far the graduates produced by a mass system of HE continue to provide the cement through which local civil society coheres, albeit in ways that are radically different from those that were characteristic of the elite system of HE.

This seminar relates to Work Package 2.1 of WISERD's Civil Society ESRC grant.


To register for this event please click here.


3rd Seminar: Civil society and Human Rights across the United Kingdom

Presenters:Dr Martina Feilzer (Bangor University)
Chair: Howard Davis
Date:3rd June 2015, Seminar Room, Neuadd Ogwen, Bangor
Times: 1:00pm – 2.30 pm

This seminar will explore differences in human rights discourses across the constituent parts of the United Kingdom. In the wake of political debates over proposals to repeal the Human Rights Act (1998) and leave the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) fault lines on human rights have appeared between the countries of the United Kingdom and their respective political leaders. Wales’ express commitment to the UN Convention on Rights of the Child as the basis for policy-making for children and young people in 2004 as well as Scotland’s and Northern Ireland’s commitments to the ECHR through the Scotland Act (1998) and the Good Friday Agreement provide additional hurdles for a UK government proposing to change European influence on human rights laws. This seminar links to a number of questions such as - how much do political discourses on human rights differ between the countries of the United Kingdom? Are such differences a result of expectations from civil society? What role is there for civil society in influencing discourse on human rights? And, finally, maybe the most important question. What do the citizens of Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland think about human rights and proposals to withdraw from the main European framework protecting them?

This seminar relates to Work Package 4.4 of WISERD's Civil Society ESRC grant.


To register for this event please click here.


4th Seminar: Third Sector Organisations and Public Policy-making in a Devolved Wales

Presenter:Dr Paul Chaney (Cardiff University)
Chair: Professor Ian Rees Jones
Date: 9th July 2015, Main Building, Council Chamber, Cardiff
Times: 5.30pm – 6.30 pm

At the outset of devolution in Wales engagement with the third sector was described by the First Minister as one of ‘three golden threads of partnership at the heart of the National Assembly’s activities’. Allied to this, the Voluntary Sector Scheme required by the devolution statute asserted ‘the Assembly recognises the role [… voluntary organizations] play in formulating and delivering public policy’. A decade-and-a-half later, this seminar draws upon an extensive set of qualitative accounts from third sector policy actors in order to explore the issues, progress and challenges associated with third sector organisations’ policy engagement with ‘devolved’ government in Wales. It considers the extent to which third sector interests have been reflected in parties’ policy programmes in devolved elections, and the way that party politics and the rapidly developing constitutional basis of devolution in Wales have impacted on the third sectors’ policy role.

This seminar relates to Work Package 2.2 of WISERD's Civil Society ESRC grant.


To register for this event please click here.


5th Seminar: Civil Society and Faith Groups in the Netherlands

Presenter: Prof Ronald Van Steden
Chair: Dr Alison Green
Date: 7th September 2015
Times: 12:00pm - 2:00pm, 46 Park Place, Cardiff University, CF10 3BB

This seminar will cover faith groups, civil society and security from a Netherlands perspective.


To register for this event please click here


6th Seminar: Civil society and ageing populations: what is the role of community organisations and volunteers?

Presenter: Tanja Bastia (University of Manchester), Martina Feilzer (Bangor University), Ian Rees Jones and Martijn Hogerbrugge (Cardiff University).
Chair: Prof Chris Phillipson
Date: 7th October 2015
Times: 2:00pm - 4:00pm, G306B, Jean McFarlane Building, University of Manchester

Civil society has become big news over the past few years. Politicians and media commentators from across the political spectrum have invoked it as a solution to a range of social problems. However in spite of the popularity of the idea, or perhaps because of it, civil society lacks an agreed upon definition. It can appear to mean many things to many people. This makes it difficult to know whether it has a positive effect for older people and the wider community. On the one hand there is lots of evidence to suggest that volunteering in later life can have hugely positive effects for individuals and their communities. However there are concerns that Governments are seeking to encourage volunteering or other unpaid work such as grandparenting as a way to fill in the gap left by the withdrawal of state funding for local services. Moreover there are those who feel that promotion of volunteering in later life as a morally and socially worthy activity might doubly disadvantage those older people who, for health or other reasons, are not able to participate and risk stigmatisation and/or further social exclusion. Evidence suggests that older volunteers are likely to be ‘younger’, healthier, better educated, religious, and have higher social status. However, research on civic participation in later life tends not to take account of the changes in civil society itself. It focuses instead on the relationship between individual participation and indicators of successful ageing. Yet civil society organisations (CSOs) are operating in in the context of continued economic and political crises that are having profound and harmful effects. Such issues throw up challenges for researchers interested in civic participation in later life. Moreover, levels of social cohesion and intergenerational solidarity may be profoundly affected by the economic and political consequences of population ageing. This may feed in to different attitudes and experiences of crime and local forms of social capital.

It is important to examine these different issues critically because, as some writers suggest, the promotion of civic engagement and volunteering among older people should not be assumed to be benign; rather the rhetoric in this area implicitly lets governments off the hook in providing for health and social needs. This seminar considered the current state of thinking about forms of civil society and social participation in later life and presented earlier findings from comparative research in order to set out potential avenues for further research and collaboration.

This seminar relates to Work Package 4.1 of WISERD's Civil Society ESRC grant.


Presentations from this event are available at the links below.

Dreams and aspirations in later life: grassroots organising and activism by migrants' elderly parents in Bolivia, Tanja Bastia, University of Manchester

Barriers to social participation in later life - fear of crime and fear of young people, Martina Feilzer, Bangor University and Ian Rees Jones, Cardiff University

The impact of trust, democracy and inequality on (later life) volunteering in Europe, Martjin Hogerbrugge, Cardiff University 

Ageing societies and civil societyIan Rees Jones, Cardiff University


7th Seminar: A Rite of Passage? National Citizen Service and the Geographies of Youth Citizenship

Presenter: Dr Sarah Mills (Loughborough University)
Chair: TBC
Date: November 5th 2015, Llandinam room L1, Aberystwyth University
Times: 5.00pm - 6.00pm

This seminar considers the ‘making’ of citizens through the politics, performances, and institutional geographies of National Citizen Service (NCS), a government funded voluntary scheme for 16 and 17 year olds that aims to “build skills for work and life” currently running in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. The seminar examines the framing of the individual ‘good’ young citizen alongside wider attempts to label young volunteers as a generation of citizens embedded within civil society.


To register for this event please click here.


8th Seminar: Campaigning unions, Devolved government: reflections on state, unions and civil society

Presenter: Dr Steve Davies and Professor Huw Beynon (Cardiff University)
Chair: Dr Paul Chaney
Date: November 12th 2015, Main Building, Council Chamber, Cardiff
Times: 5.30pm - 6.30pm

Based on a series of interviews with trade union leaders in Wales, this presentation examines how the changes around devolution have provided opportunities for trade unions in Wales to influence governmental decision making that do not exist in England. However there are limits to this, and the presentation will also review how trade unions in Wales are using other (and sometimes new) ways of advancing members' interests.

This seminar relates to Work Package 3.3 of WISERD's Civil Society ESRC grant.


To register for this event please click here.


Changing landscapes for the Third sector

Presenter: Dr Kahyrn Hughes (University of Leeds)
Chair: TBC
Date: 2nd December 2015
Times: 1:00pm - 2:00pm, TBC, Bangor University

This presentation is based on findings from the study called Changing Landscapes for the Third Sector. The project brought together a wide network of studies that used qualitative longitudinal methods to research the changing fortunes and experiences of Third Sector organisations, and the people who are involved in them, over time. We brought the findings and data together from these projects in a number of ways and this presentation focuses on findings from the Synthesis, conducted by Dr Rob Macmillan (TSRC, University of Birmingham) and the Secondary Analysis, conducted by Dr Angela Ellis Paine (TSRC, University of Birmingham), and Veronique Jochum (National Council of Voluntary Organisations.

After a brief outline of the methods used in Changing Landscapes, I will bring these findings together to consider how third sector organisations have adapted and developed in response to a rapidly changing economic context in a broader context of diminishing resources and an intensification of hardship and an individualisation of benefits for those who access third sector services.  In this context of increasing demand at a time of depleted resources, I will explore how volunteering has become an increasingly important resource for both organisations and service users.  However, pathways through volunteering for the volunteers themselves have been, to date, poorly understood.  The presentation will outline the key findings on these pathways from our secondary analysis that may be of most benefit and utility to the third sector as they face continuing challenges.


To download the presentation from this event please click here.


To register for this event please click here.


Further Information

For further information please contact Sarah Creed on 02920 870983.