Birmingham Seminar Series
The Third Sector Research Centre hosts short seminars at Birmingham University to share current research by TSRC and others at the University of Birmingham.
If you have any queries, please contact Rebecca Berridge: firstname.lastname@example.org / 0121 414 3086
‘Below the Radar’ Research Seminar
Thursday 23 May 2013, 12 – 2.30pm
This seminar is open to all and will start with a buffet lunch at 12pm, followed by the two presentations below and time for discussion. Please register online
"Grassroots and under-the-radar associations: what US research tells us about finding them, their numbers, and their nature"
David Horton Smith
David is Research Professor and Professor Emeritus of Sociology, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA, USA. He is in the UK in Spring 2013 as an Honorary Visiting Professor of Altruistics and Community Engagement at the School of Allied Health Professions, University of East Anglia (supported also by a U.S. Fulbright Commission Senior Specialist Distinguished Visiting Lecturer Award/Grant).
“Below the radar community activities in real time – insights from a qualitative longitudinal study”
Rob Macmillan, Andri Soteri-Proctor and Rebecca Taylor
In seeking to avoid over-generalised accounts of the state of the third sector as a whole, academics and commentators often highlight the need to understand the experiences of smaller and informal, grassroots groups, described by some as ‘below the radar’ organisations. TSRC’s ‘Real Times’ qualitative longitudinal study has been exploring in some depth the fortunes, strategies and challenges of a diverse group of case studies of third sector organisations and activities over a three year period, including a range of activities in four ‘below the radar’ settings. This seminar asks how these activities have fared over an unsettling period for many third sector organisations, characterised by a squeeze on resources and changing political priorities. Specifically we explore two dimensions of grassroots ‘below the radar’ activity over time. Firstly we emphasise the role of class and history in shaping the organisation and fortunes of community activities in two small contrasting villages, one relatively affluent and the other a relatively deprived ex-mining village. Secondly we outline and discuss the idea of social bricolage as entrepreneurial action to bring together local resources in relation to two community resource centres. In doing so we highlight the challenges and dynamics in the role of the ‘community building bricoleur’. The seminar explores how a longer term perspective might amplify our understanding of the dynamics of grassroots third sector activities.
Rob Macmillan, Andri Soteri-Proctor and Rebecca Taylor are Research Fellows at the Third Sector Research Centre. They are part of the team undertaking the ‘Real Times’ qualitative longitudinal study of third sector organisations and activities.
All in it together? Exploring ‘isomorphic’ pressures that drive convergence of approach and delivery
Tuesday 18 June 2013, 12 - 1.30pm
Recent research by TSRC into the Work Programme looked at the role of third sector organisations in delivering services, in supply chains led by prime contractors. A number controversies surrounding the sector’s role were explored – that it was being squeezed out of provision, that TSOs were more affected by low and unpredictable 'flows' of customers, and that they were being treated unfairly by primes and seeing excessive risks passed down to them. TSRC also wanted to explore whether TSOs were more or less likely to engage in 'gaming' behaviour, specifically the creaming and parking of customers. Subcontractors from all three sectors involved in the work programme were interviewed. What we found was a more nuanced picture. Pressures operate on most subcontractors regardless of sector. Organisations’ experience of the work programme is determined more by their position in the supply chain - mainly whether they are delivering an 'end to end' service or a specialist intervention.
A range of powerful 'isomorphic' pressures operating on subcontractors were identified, which push them to converge around particular approaches and deliver in particular ways. These pressures come from the overall system of the Programme and the management practices of individual prime contractors. They are heightened by the 'commercial' nature of the programme, the reduced resources available, and the adverse economic conditions. This seminar looks at how isomorphic pressures operate on subcontractors. It discusses the intensity of pressures on organisations, and the evidence for convergence of approach. It also considers how individuals within organisations and observers of welfare to work make sense of these pressures and outcomes.
James Rees is a Research Fellow at the Third Sector Research Centre at the University of Birmingham.
Venue: Garden Room, Park House
This seminar is open to all, registration is not required.
The Housing and Communities Research Network also hold regular seminars at the University of Birmingham
Housing and Communities is an important arena for current policy and practice challenges, in relation to welfare reform, public spending cuts, homelessness, localism and more, and an important area of research at the University of Birmingham. The network aims to help build links between researchers and partners across the West Midlands.