Changing narratives, changing relationships: A new environment for voluntary action?

Markus Ketola, Ciaran Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the context of shifting policy approaches and decreasing state funding, contemporary government policy narratives are beginning to recognise the changing relationships between government and the voluntary and community sector. In the UK, while much of the partnership rhetoric of the New Labour years remains in place, this article explores how assumptions about the role and nature of the sector and the terms on which it engages with government are rapidly changing in the context of Northern Ireland. Drawing on an analysis of the policy environment in recent decades and in-depth interview data collected as part of research conducted in Northern Ireland, the article demonstrates how the narratives that frame the sector's identity are being challenged by new policy narratives and competing representations of the sector–government relationship.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-214
Number of pages18
JournalVoluntary Sector Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • narratives
  • Northern Ireland
  • voluntary sector
  • third sector

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