Border Crossings: Implications for Civil Society in a ‘Dis’-United Kingdom
Anjelica Finnegan

Jane Cullingworth, co-organiser of the next VSSN Day Seminar on 18 May taking place in Glasgow, tells you why it’s important we have this event now and what you can expect from it.


The timing of this seminar, Border Crossings: Implications for Civil Society in a ‘Dis’-United Kingdom, could not be better. Sandwiched between the local council and Westminster elections and within the broader context of Brexit, this seminar focuses on the implications on the third sector of the changing political and societal relationships within the UK, and between the UK and Europe.

The seminar will be of interest to a range of audiences – practitioners, academics, policy makers, civil servants, and citizens alike. Over the course of the day we will hear presentations from and engage in debate with academics and practitioners across the UK, deliberating on the complexity of relationships between citizen and state and amongst nation state and broader political unions.

What will you learn?

The seminar will open with two presentations focused on issues related to civic participation. Dr. Claire Bynner, Research Associate at What Works Scotland, University of Glasgow, presents on Civilities, local hierarchies and bridging divides in a super-diverse neighbourhood. Dr. Bynner draws on her research into the changing nature of collective identity by drawing on evidence from an ethnographic case study of a super-diverse neighbourhood in Glasgow.

Dr. Christina McMellon, Research Fellow, and Dr. Daniela Sime, Reader in Education and Social Policy both at the University of Strathclyde, will present on Belonging but not belonging? Central and Eastern European young people’s civil participation and use of services in the UK. Their research focuses on young people’s civic engagement, exploring a tension between young people’s sense of belonging and their lower levels of political engagement and use of services than the broader population of young people in the UK.

The Scottish context will be addressed by two presenters. First is Dr. Matthew Dutton, a Senior Research Fellow at the Employment Research Institute at Edinburgh Napier University. His presentation titled, Third sector independence: relations with the state in an age of austerity, explores how the independence of third sector organisations has been affected by changing relationships with local authorities and the Scottish Government in the context of austerity measures introduced by the UK government.

Second, Katey Tabner, a PhD candidate from University of the West of Scotland, presents on Community Empowerment: Understanding Scotland’s community sector in relation to wider voluntary infrastructure agencies and the policy making process. Through her paper she proposes that a ‘Scottish Approach’ to policy making has created unique opportunities for third sector infrastructure agencies to inform and implement community empowerment legislation. If you want to read more about the ‘Scottish Approach’ see Cairney, P, Russell, S, and St Denny, E, 2016, The ‘Scottish approach’ to policy and policymaking: what issues are territorial and what are universal? Policy & Politics, 44, 3, 333-350.

The broader UK context is addressed in the next two presentations. Dr. Iain Britton, Head of Citizens in Policing at the Institute for Public Safety, Crime and Justice at the University of Northampton, presents Volunteering and third sector engagement in policing: A complex and confusing UK picture. The paper explores the current UK picture for police voluntarism and third sector engagement, contrasting findings across the four nations.

Professor Gareth Morgan, Emeritus Professor of Charity Studies, Sheffield Hallam University, closes the formal presentations with, Jurisdictional differences in charity regulation in the UK: Implications for a post-Brexit third sector. Professor Morgan argues that fundamental differences in charity regulation across the UK are often overlooked and are key to understanding the place on non-charitable organisations across the UK’s third sector.

A chance for debate

This timely seminar will not just be an opportunity to hear about new research, but also a chance to debate. We will close with a discussion to draw out the themes of the day and to consider if there is convergence or divergence across the UK’s third sector/civil society – and does it matter?

I am delighted to announce our panellists: Professor Stephen Osborne, Chair of International Public Management at the University of Edinburgh Business School, and John Mohan, Professor of Social Policy at the University of Birmingham and Director of the Third Sector Research Centre.

Interested in coming along?

Sign up for the seminar online through the Voluntary Sector Studies Network.
The seminar will be hosted in the historic Pearce Institute in Govan, from 10.30-16.00 on Thursday 18 May.

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