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A Review of Third Sector Research in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand: 1990–2016

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This monograph reviews the state of the third sector in both Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, and some of the research that has studied and documented it. We examine both the current state of knowledge and also the research infrastructure that has provided that knowledge. This is the first ever comprehensive overview of this field in Australasia. While third sector research in Australasia has always been part of international developments, there is much that is unique to this region. Indeed, there are important differences between the two countries, despite their shared history. Note in particular the greater prominence of indigenous Māori perspectives highlighted in the title Aotearoa New Zealand. This monograph documents that unique story.While the third sector/civil society has existed in Australasia since the beginning of colonial times and before, the major flowering of the sector in practice and research concerning the sector has occurred after 1990. We therefore focus most of this monograph on events occurring since that time. The monograph begins with an overview of the sector, examining how it is defined, what evidence we have of its scope and scale, including its economic and social contributions to the nation. In Part One, we also review the kinds of infrastructure that have developed to monitor and support the sector, as well as the academic infrastructure that has enabled scholars to come together, share research programs, and publish the growing body of knowledge. Of unique importance is the organization Australia and New Zealand Third Sector Research (ANZTSR) and its peer-refereed journal, Third Sector Review ( TSR ).Part Two of the monograph goes on to examine third sector relations with the state in each country. In common to both is the rapid rise of policy and regulation governing the sector as governments become increasingly aware of its importance. This has led both to rapid growth in funding and in third sector services, but also to greater control within neo-liberal ideological and policy constraints. Some of the effects have been positive, but the monograph also documents some negative issues that result. Part Three documents and examines the current state of volunteering and philanthropy (giving) in both countries, again identifying both the growth and also the concomitant issues that arise.While much of the growth and documented research focuses on the formal service organizations of the third sector, that is only part of the story. Part Four therefore examines the other side of civil society, the very large and dynamic—but generally unfunded—world of citizen action, building social cohesion and social capital within local communities, and also discusses a broader stage of advocacy and political protest. The message here is one of strong citizen engagement bringing about important social and political changes.The concluding Part Five examines some of the current developments in civil society, new forms of third sector organizations emerging, and challenges for the future.

Affiliations: 1: Professor Emerita, University of Technology Sydney SydneyAustralia ; 2: Director, LEaD Centre for Not for Profit Leadership AotearoaNew Zealand


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