Governance through civil society
Research Unit on Civil Society - University of Leicester

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Governance through Civil Society?

Event sponsored by the Cinefogo European Network of Excellence

University of Leicester – 16 October 2009

With particular reference to the activities of the public sector, this one-day workshop will examine to what an extent civil society organizations can improve decision-making processes.

The first session will provide a quantitative description of the voluntary sector in recent years and will frame the role of associations in organizational and economic terms. It will also focus on a test case to examine the variety of roles associations play vis-à-vis public opinion and municipal authorities. The second section will focus on the role of associations in decision-making processes, and will in particular focus on their relations with the public sector.

Draft Programme

9.15am-9:30 Coffee/tea

9:30– 9:45 Welcome and brief introduction to the workshop

                Carlo Ruzza and Barbara Misztal

9:30- 11:45 am. Section 1: The Changing Role of Associations

9:45-10:15               Organized Civil Society, Volunteering and welfare system

Thomas Boje, University of Roskilde

10:15-10:45            Organizational Structures of Civic Associations  

Laszlo Bruszt - EUI

10:45-11:15            Associations in Sport: the test case of anti-racist associations in football

John Williams – University of Leicester


11:15 -11:45  General Discussion (introduced by Barbara Misztal)

11:45 -13 Lunch break

13 - 15pm  Section 2: Civil society, Citizenship and the Public Sector


13-13:30      Citizenship and the Public Sector

                                    Giovanna Procacci – University of Milan

13:30 - 14    State, Citizenship and Civil Society

Andrzej Rychard – Polish Academy

14-14:30      Citizenship and Migration

David Bartram – University of Leicester

14:30 -15 General Discussion (introduced by Carlo Ruzza and Chiara Marchetti)




Organized Civil Society, Volunteering and welfare system

Thomas P. Boje

Roskilde University




The vitality and strength of civil society depends upon the active participation of citizens in a variety of organizations. However, variations in associational life and informal activities follow typically the different structuring of the welfare system in the European societies. In the paper I find that volunteering is most widespread in the North-Western European countries where it is correlated with a high level of public welfare commitment while it is low in both Southern – and Central European countries characterized by few associative organizations and restricted public welfare provision. It is obvious that the level of welfare commitment measured by level of universalism in access to social security and provision of social services is of great important for both the democratic involvement of citizens and for volunteering. The amount of civic participation / volunteering seems thus to be determined by the citizens’ embeddedness in social networks that encourage democratic decision-making and volunteering. The relationship between public welfare commitment and volunteering holds primarily for formal activities in non-profit organizations. When it comes to the informal types of voluntarism and social networking they seem to be high both in countries characterized by equalized social structure and in countries with a less developed system of social protection but characterized by strong familialism in the system of social network. In the last type of societies the informal network and social ties thus seem to play a significant role in building up the civil society.



Thomas P. Boje is Professor of Social Science (labour market and sociology) at Department of Society and Globalisation, Roskilde University, Denmark. He is international coordinator for the CINEFOGO Network of Excellence financed by EU through the 6th FP. Recent books include Gender, Welfare State and the Market  (Routledge, 2000 with A. Leira), Post-industrial Labour Markets, (Routledge Studies in Modern World Economy 2003 with B. Furåker), and Families and Welfare in Europe (Ashgate 2005 with P. Abrahamson and B. Greve) and numerous articles.