The constraints on voluntary sector voice in a period of continued austerity
Hemmings, Mike (2017)


This article explores how austerity has affected the ability of voluntary sector organisations in England to represent, advocate and lobby to ensure that the voice of disadvantaged people is heard by government. The core contribution of the article is its use of a qualitative longitudinal
research methodology to analyse how people experience, interpret and respond to change. The article supports neo-institutional and resource dependency theories, which argue that institutional incorporation, financial dependency and managerial isomorphism have a negative impact on the ability
to express critical voice. Austerity accelerates this tendency, creating fear and layering additional pressures on previous restructuring and reform tensions. This contrasts with quantitative empirical findings that involvement with government and financial dependency strengthen rather than
reduce political advocacy. The article argues for a nuanced view of advocacy that recognises the constraints on the ability of the sector to advocate for and empower disadvantaged people and communities.


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