Start date:
October 2016
End date:
September 2019
Economic and Social Research Council

This project has three components. The first two combine archive work, case studies and interviews to investigate how the territorial administration of the third sector in Wales has changed over the post-war period in response to shifting patterns and processes of governance - and how this has affected the way third sector organizations shape and deliver welfare. The third component explores civil society’s role in advancing human rights in Europe, Asia and Africa.

Study Component One – Exploring the Territorial Administration of the Third Sector in Wales (1935- Present)

This historical research examines change in response to shifting patterns and processes of governance in the UK. Archive Work will explore the developing national Welsh policy context and will comprise: archive work (e.g. analysis of organizational records, minutes and proceedings, Records of the National Library for Wales, Welsh Office; National Assembly for Wales Official Record, etc.); elite interviews with key policy-makers and officials associated with the management/ policy-related to the sector in Wales over past decades.

Study Component TwoA Critical Examination of Third Sector Organizations’ Contemporary Role in Welfare Delivery

This strand of the research focuses on the implementation of the Social Services and Well Being (Wales) Act (2014), (SSWB). Effective since April 2016, this Welsh enactment is specific in requiring local authorities to promote the development of third sector organisations (TSOs) to provide care and support and preventative services. Thus, it makes explicit the role of the third sector in both the planning of services (Part 9), and in the development of new social welfare delivery models (Section 16). In contrast, the equivalent English Act (Section 5) talks about ‘Promoting diversity and quality in provision of services’. It does so with reference to ‘markets’ (‘A local authority must promote the efficient and effective operation of a market in services for meeting care and support needs with a view to ensuring that any person in its area wishing to access services in the market— (a) has a variety of providers to choose from who (taken together) provide a variety of services’). Whilst this does not exclude third sector provision – it is more aligned with neo-liberalism and contracting to the private sector.

Our research investigates the distinctive Welsh policy context and how the SSWBA Act is being implemented and its effects on the relationships between the statutory agencies and third sector organisations. It is concerned with understanding the experiences and perspectives of third sector practitioners and policy-makers. The research design is based on case studies of 4 different regions in Wales. The data gathering includes: a raft of in-depth semi-structured interviews with third sector representatives, regional development staff and local authority officers - as well as representatives of national third sector organizations and policy actors. This is complemented by document analysis and participant observation of relevant third sector meetings. A summary of the project’s emerging findings can be found in the Ministerial Briefing Paper ‘Delivering Transformation in Wales: Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act, 2014’ (downloadable from ‘Publications’ – below).

Component Three – A Critical Exploration of Civil Society’s Role in Advancing Human Rights in Europe, Asia and Africa

This aspect of the work-package uses secondary data analysis to examine civil society organizations’ (CSOs’) role in promoting human rights in the delivery of social welfare and other areas of public policy. It uses discourse analysis to examine CSOs’ critical views of state practices, as submitted to the United Nations Universal Periodic Review. International comparative analysis charts the issues, progress and challenges across a broad range of countries in Europe, Asia and Africa. The findings are detailed in 12 international journal papers (see publications – below).

Research team

Journal Articles
Civil Society, 'Traditional Values' and LGBT Resistance to Heteronormative Rights Hegemony: Analysis of the UN Universal Periodic Review in the Russian Federation
Europe-Asia Studies 70(4) pp 638-665 This study of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in the Russian Federation uses frame analysis of civil society input into the UN Universal Periodic Review. It reveals a stark state–civil society ‘disconnect’ reflecting...
Reports and Briefings
Delivering Transformation in Wales: Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act, 2014
The initial findings of a research project undertaken by WISERD, the Wales Co-operative Centre and the WCVA. The primary focus of the work is to develop sources of information and guidance to secure more meaningful engagement and involvement with social enterprise, co...
Journal Articles
Civil Society, Human Rights and Religious Freedom in the People’s Republic of China: Analysis of CSOs’ Universal Periodic Review Discourse
This article in the International Journal of Human Rights examines religious freedom in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) using critical frame analysis of state and civil society organisations’ (CSOs) policy discourse associated with the United Nations (UN) Universal...
Journal Articles
Comparative Analysis of State and Civil Society Discourse on Human Rights Implementation and the Position of Roma in the Former Yugoslav Space
Ethnopolitics 16(5) pp 431-449 This study analyses the position of Roma people in the former Yugoslavia using state and civil society discourse on human rights implementation. It reveals that states are failing to give sufficient prioritisation to tackling longstanding...
Journal Articles
Comparative Analysis of Civil Society and State Discourse on Disabled People's Rights and Welfare in South East Asia 2010-16
Over the next quarter century it is likely that Southeast Asian countries will experience high levels of growth in the number of disabled people. It is therefore significant that, over the past decade, the region’s governments have at last ratified the United Nations...
Journal Articles
Comparative analysis of state and civil society discourse on the implementation of the United Nations' convention on the rights of the child in North Africa
The Journal of North African Studies 22(1) pp 6-34 In the face of continuing children’s rights abuses across North Africa, the need for governments to engage non-state actors in human rights implementation is explicit in the United Nations’ convention on the rights of the...
Journal Articles
Governance transitions' and minority nationalist parties' pressure for welfare state change: Evidence from Welsh and Scottish elections - And the UK's 'Brexit' referendum
This study is concerned with welfare state development and the intersection between the twin global phenomena of sub-state nationalism and ‘governance transitions’. Specifically, how minority nationalist parties (MNPs) use discourse to exert pressure for welfare change...
Journal Articles
Civil Society Organizations' Experiences of Participative Environmental Mainstreaming: A Political Systems Perspective of a Regional European Polity
Environmental Policy and Governance 26(6) pp 510-526 This paper addresses a lacuna in the literature on environmental policy integration by exploring civil society organizations' (CSOs) experiences of participative environmental mainstreaming – a policy imperative to embed...
Journal Articles
Participatory governance or deliberative disjuncture? Exploring the state-civil society policy nexus in the gender mainstreaming programmes of seven Middle Eastern states 2005-2015
British Journal of Middle East Studies 44(3) pp 310-322 To better understand why Middle Eastern states continue to languish at the bottom of world rankings on gender equality, this study presents critical discourse analysis of state and civil society organizations’...
Journal Articles
Gendered political space: civil society, contingency theory, and the substantive representation of women
Journal of Civil Society 12(2) pp 198-223 Whilst existing civil society studies generally fail to systematically examine the way that contextual factors shape women’s representation in the civil sphere, political science has predominantly focused on legislative settings...
Journal Articles
Mind the gap? Civil society policy engagement and the pursuit of gender justice: critical discourse analysis of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in Africa 2003-2015
Review of African Political Economy 43(150) pp 608-629 This article presents critical discourse analysis of state and civil society organisations’ efforts to implement the gender mainstreaming goals set out in the United Nations’ Beijing Declaration. It is argued that the...
Journal Articles
Civil Society and Gender Mainstreaming: Empirical Evidence and Theory-Building from Twelve Post-Conflict Countries 2005-15
World Development (83) pp 280–294 Using critical discourse analysis, this twelve-country study addresses a key lacuna by examining civil society perspectives on the implementation of the Participative Democratic Model (PDM) of gender mainstreaming in post-conflict states...
Journal Articles
Post-Feminist Era of Social Investment and Territorial Welfare? Exploring the Issue Salience and Policy Framing of Child Care in U.K. Elections 1983-2011
SAGE Open 5(1) pp 1-14 Earlier work has tended to overlook the formative origins of child care policy in liberal democracies. Accordingly, this study examines mandate-seeking and parties’ envisioning of child care with reference to issue salience and policy framing in party...
Journal Articles
Institutional ableism, critical actors and the substantive representation of disabled people: Evidence from the UK Parliament 1940-2012
The Journal of Legislative Studies 21(2) pp 168-191 This study is concerned with the substantive representation of disabled people (SRDP) in legislative settings; in other words, addressing disabled people's needs and concerns in policy and lawmaking. Mixed methods analysis...

Themes: Civil Society