Ireland, along with the rest of Europe, is enmeshed in an economic and financial crisis. Austerity policies are changing the nature of society to the extent that what started as an economic crisis is now a political, an unemployment and even a cultural crisis. Media, political and popular debate is dominated by this crisis. There is virtually no comment on or debate about another crisis – the crisis that civil society, and in particular the community sector, finds itself in.
Irish society is being transformed by crisis. This is no short-term transformation. Inequality is deepening. Poverty is becoming more pervasive. The state is withdrawing from its redistributive role. Funding for the community sector is being whittled away. The market is ever more dominant. Yet the community sector concentrates its energies on trying to protect its position, its funding and its role. At times a spark of resistance emerges from the sector to a particular austerity measure. Only rarely does the bigger issue of the nature of the society that should emerge from crisis merit attention from the sector.
The crisis of the community sector is one of purpose and role, of structure and organisation, and of strategy and tactics. Ultimately it is a crisis of imagination. In a changing society how does the community sector now operate to devise, build support for and demand a future based on equality, solidarity and participation?
Please let us know what you think below. A full discussion paper is here