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The University of Southampton
Social Statistics and DemographyPart of Economic, Social & Political ScienceOur research

Voluntary sector, social welfare and inequality

Our work considers the implications of recent public spending austerity for voluntary organisations, which as collective aspects of public life provide a variety of services, resources and activities conducive to social welfare and wellbeing.  In one strand of work, David Clifford and colleagues use administrative data to describe trends in the income of registered charities in England and Wales.   Given the importance of local government funding to many voluntary organisations, we are interested in considering the implications for the voluntary sector of current unprecedented changes in local government finance.

A key theme in much of our work is exploring the implications of spatial inequality for the voluntary sector.  We are interested in how the density of voluntary organisations varies according to local area social and economic context, and in how these spatial patterns are reproduced over time.  We examine geographical differences in the reliance of voluntary organisations on public funding, which provides context for understanding the uneven implications of public spending austerity.

We are also interested in the internationalisation of voluntary activity.   For example we consider how - while it is the large charities working in overseas development that are household names  - contemporary global networks have facilitated an increase in the number of international ‘citizen initiatives’ – small-scale ‘grassroots’ voluntary organisations,  run by volunteers, and focused on the direct provision of goods or services to individuals and communities overseas.

In our work on these themes we work with, amongst others, the Third Sector Research Centre and the National Council of Voluntary Organisations.


Dr David Clifford

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