Learning to love (the state) again? Money, legitimacy and community sector politics

Merrindahl Andrew*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    The erosion and dismantling of the post-war welfare settlement has entailed an expanded role for the community sector, as a complex mixed economy of service provision' has developed. Critiques from both right and left have undermined the legitimacy of a statist model of welfare; state funding of non-government community organisations is one aspect of the move away from centralised delivery. Despite their important role in this process, the distinctive perspectives of community sector organisations are rarely considered in broader theoretical and political debates. These organisations face significant dilemmas in struggling to maintain their viability and independence. Analysis of three major arguments for funding shows how organisations challenge the state's legitimacy by insisting on their own independent role but precariously rely on traditional sources of welfare state funding. This analysis draws into question the possibility of satisfactory non-statist theories of welfare. It also suggests that the community sector might need to reposition itself as part of a broader public system of welfare, rather than in opposition to government, but that this strategy entails obvious risks for organisations' independence.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)313-326
    Number of pages14
    JournalAustralian Journal of Social Issues
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2006


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