Changing Landscapes for the Third Sector


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Understanding the micro-dynamics of third sector organisations is vitally important in times of rapid social change. Changing Landscapes will enhance our understanding of the voluntary sector by bringing together evidence from a network of projects that are ‘walking alongside’ third sector organisations as they navigate a shifting policy landscape.

Welcome to the Changing Landscapes of the Third Sector website. Here you will find details of a project based in the School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Leeds, with partners in The Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC) and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO). The study runs for one year from May 2013 to May 2014.

What is the project about?

This project brings together a wide network of organisations who have been using qualitative longitudinal methods to research the changing fortunes and experiences of Third Sector organisations, and the people who are involved in them, over time. Using a whole range of Qualitative Longitudinal methods, the longer time frames of the different research studies means we are able to see how Third Sector organisations have developed and changed in their efforts to adapt to and work within a rapidly changing economic context. There are more details on the About the Project page.

What does the project involve?

This project uses a new way of working across different studies that have already been done. We have followed a very specific plan of action so that the existing knowledge and expertise of network members has been brought together in defining key questions, and in illuminating key themes in third sector research.

This plan of action involved the following:

These activities in the study use new techniques and approaches to secondary analysis, and data archiving for continued use for future researchers developed under an earlier study, ESRC Timescapes, led by Professor Bren Neale.

Who is the project with?

Full details of the Changing Landscapes network is on the Network page. The network is made up of researchers working across academic, government and third sector organisations. It therefore includes the key sectors interested in understanding how and why third sector organisations might be changing in order to adapt to rapid social change.

Co-ordinating the network

The study also co-ordinates new and emerging knowledge and information from across academic and practice organisations, which will provide the foundation for scaling up evidence. In other words, by drawing together a number of separate studies all looking at similar topics, at similar times and for similar time periods the project is able to consider a much larger knowledge base than individual studies commonly allow.

The synthesis and secondary analysis activities will produce briefing papers which will appear on this website in once our consultation process has been completed.

We hope these briefing papers will be of use to practitioners, service providers and wider public policy planners and providers working in, or for, the Third Sector.

Details of the research, including our aims, methods and our policy and practice partners can be found on our About and Research pages.

Our Knowledge Bank is designed as a useful resource for professionals, academics and members of the public who are interested in the work of this project, including volunteers in the Third Sector, or those working in Third Sector organizations. As we develop these pages, we will include details of published findings from the study and related publications and resources of use to academics and professionals with an interest in the Third Sector. This website also contains links to our Network Member projects and organizations, which we hope will be useful for people interested in finding out more about the wide range of excellent research conducted in this field. We will also be developing facilities for people to blog about their experiences researching in, or working with and for, the Third Sector.

The website also gives details of the Changing Landscapes network of academics and researchers and how to register to join the network and receive updates on the research as it progresses. As part of this, there are links to the Timescapes Archive, and the Timescapes Website, which contains a wealth of information about qualitative longitudinal research.

Finally, our People page gives details of the research team. There are useful links to people’s personal staff pages, their publications and other research projects in which they are involved. The research team is distinctive, as it is made up of people from different organizations around the UK, academic, professional and voluntary. In this way, not only is the focus of the study cross-sector, but the team itself brings expertise from a diverse range of organizations.

We very much hope you will find the site useful. Please contact us if you would like further information about our work or would like to contribute to the resources we are building here.

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