WISERD research was given prominent attention at the 2016 Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research Conference. This is one of the UK’s foremost forums for research on civil society and the third sector, with diverse presentations from academics and practitioners. It was jointly hosted by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), the Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN) and the Institute for Volunteering Research (IVR), and took place at the Nottingham Conference Centre
Alice Taylor, WISERD Engagement Manager & Dr Sioned Pearce, Research Associate discuss WISERD Civil Society Research with Conference- goers
WISERD’s stand generated much interest amongst conference attendees keen to engage with work-packages across the Civil Society Research Programme. WISERD’s research dissemination included a paper by Dr Sioned Pearce under the Conference Theme of ‘Civil Society and Democracy: Ongoing Challenges and Opportunities’. In the paper entitled ‘Young People, Place and Devolved Politics’, Dr Pearce argued that whilst a wealth of research has been conducted into democratic participation among young people in the UK – as well as young people’s geo-political identity - these issues are less well explored in the context of devolution. Youth engagement in a devolved Wales is therefore important research focus in-light of the relative infancy of the National Assembly, and the growing numbers of young people who have not known a time before devolution. Accordingly, Dr Pearce’s presentation set out new empirical evidence that addresses the existing knowledge gap.
Also under the ‘Civil Society and Democracy’ Theme Professor Paul Chaney Chaired a session with contributions from leading academics in the field of third sector studies, including Professor Marilyn Tailor, Dr John Dean (Sheffield Hallam University), and Dr Harriet Samuels (University of Westminster). In a subsequent session Professor Chaney presented a paper exploring the challenges in maintaining and supporting the democratic participation of civil society organisations (CSOs) in order to uphold human rights for children and young people in six North African countries. This geographical focus was selected because states across the region languish in the bottom third of global human rights rankings. In the face of continuing abuses, the need to engage non-state actors in human rights implementation has never been more important. The study highlighted the contingent nature of civil society engagement, agency and activism and how, in turn, these are shaped by issues of democracy, civil conflict and political stability. In presenting its findings the paper challenges accepted thinking associated with ‘transitology’ and reveals key pathologies affecting the contemporary implementation of children’s rights across the region