NGOs and their role in the welfare mix

Jolkkonen, Roosa (2019). NGOs and their role in the welfare mix. In: Midgley, James; Surender, Rebecca and Alfers, Laura eds. Handbook of Social Policy and Development. Edward Elgar Publishing.



Non-governmental organisations (NGOs), are central actors in implementing welfare policies in countries of the Global North and Global South, as well as transnationally. Beside the welfare provision function, NGOs are recognized as prominent policy advocates furthering social transformation by shaping development and social policy agendas. NGOs thus represent a fundamental building block of the welfare mix, known as the division of welfare provision between the state, market, family and the third sector in which they are typically included. Despite the congruent roles NGOs hold in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, the academic study of NGOs has taken two divergent paths. NGOs operating in the Global South have been mainly studied as ‘development NGOs’ in the field of development studies, while NGOs operating in the Global North have been investigated as ‘charities’ and ‘non-profits’ belonging to the third sector in the field of social policy. This chapter explores the role of NGOs in the welfare mix as deliverers of and advocates for welfare policies, and highlights the existing interface between social policy and development theory and practice.

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