Increasingly the voluntary sector and volunteering is viewed through the lens of ‘civil society’ and the past 12 months have witnessed considerable public and political debate* about how civil society can be at the heart of the changes needed to ensure that all communities can thrive. This includes how to strengthen social value within communities, how civil society can revitalise and enhance democracy, and the potential for reshaping state-civil society relationships.
These debates present opportunities and challenges for civil society actors and for research undertaken on, with and for them. Each year, the Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research Conference – organised by the Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN) and the National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) – provides a unique opportunity for academics, policy makers and practitioners from the UK and further afield to come together to share findings and discuss the implications of research.
This year’s conference will build on ongoing debates in the research community to consider the implications of current political and economic uncertainties, and the seemingly relentless rise of social inequality on civil society, the voluntary sector and volunteering. In support of this our ‘Conference Track’ invites contributions focused on the future of civil society and the broader issues facing the voluntary sector and volunteering at this time. These could include, for example: critical reflections on the Civil Society Strategy and Civil Society Futures, and their implications for policy, practice and research; international, jurisdictional and comparative perspectives including to what extent is ‘civil society’ mobilised differently across different contexts; how we conceptualise and measure civil society; and the evolution of civil society over time.
This year the Birmingham VSSN conference will also feature a Social housing workshop sponsored by the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT). The seminar takes place on the second day of the conference (Wednesday) and aims to provide a forum for research dissemination, academic and practitioner insights on various aspects of social housing, and a professional network.
*See for example to the Civil Society Strategy and Civil Society Futures