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State Encroachment on Civil Society? A Comparative Study of Parties, Interest Groups and Welfare-Providing Organizations in Contemporary Democracies

Objective

This interdisciplinary project compares the regulatory frameworks governing membership-based, voluntary organizations (VOs) in long-lived democracies and assesses how these frameworks affect VOs’ operations. It studies interest groups, parties and welfare-providers as three VO types interacting with the state at different stages of the political process. State control over organized civil society is at odds with pluralist values and supposed to weaken VOs’ linkages to citizens. Simultaneously, specialist literatures in political science and sociology point to ‘their’ VOs’ entanglement with the state, while comparative legal and public policy scholars note that governments, in recent reforms, increased their control over which VOs receive funds and how funds can be used. In times of austerity, welfare state retrenchment and declining trust in elected institutions the regulatory frameworks governing VOs are changing, deeply affecting organizational life in a democracy. Only an up-to-date overview of current frameworks allows us to examine whether close state-voluntary relations compromise VO autonomy and reduce VOs’ beneficial effects for democracy. This project tackles these important issues through two modules integrated through a mixed methods design. Module 1 develops an analytical framework to compare the regulation of VOs cross-nationally and applies it to 19 long-lived democracies. Based on this mapping, it specifies and theorizes distinct normative conceptions of state-voluntary relations underpinning democracies. Offering a new approach to VO development, Module 2 studies qualitatively (through in-depth interviews and document analysis) how individual VOs adapt to ‘most different’ regimes - each regime representative of one state-voluntary conception identified in Module 1-, while testing quantitatively (through event history analysis) how far the features that VOs acquire in this process affect their likelihood to survive under varying regulatory conditions.

Field of science

  • /humanities/languages and literature/literature - general
  • /social sciences/political science
  • /social sciences/political science/government systems/civil society
  • /social sciences/political science/government systems/democracy
  • /social sciences/political science/public policy
  • /humanities/history and archaeology/history
  • /social sciences/sociology

Call for proposal

ERC-2013-StG
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

ERC-SG - ERC Starting Grant
Leaflet | Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors, Credit: EC-GISCO, © EuroGeographics for the administrative boundaries

Host institution

THE UNIVERSITY OF EXETER
Address
The Queen's Drive Northcote House
EX4 4QJ Exeter
United Kingdom
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 864 972
Principal investigator
Nicole Bolleyer (Dr.)
Administrative Contact
Gaynor Hughes (Ms.)

Beneficiaries (1)

THE UNIVERSITY OF EXETER
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 864 972
Address
The Queen's Drive Northcote House
EX4 4QJ Exeter
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Principal investigator
Nicole Bolleyer (Dr.)
Administrative Contact
Gaynor Hughes (Ms.)