Skip to main content
Kent Academic Repository

The role and scope of the UK voluntary sector

Kendall, Jeremy (1996) The role and scope of the UK voluntary sector. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86157) (KAR id:86157)


This thesis describes and analyses the scope and scale of the UK voluntary sector, drawing on research undertaken within the context of an international comparative project. It provides the first systematic and comprehensive attempt to map the economic contribution of the voluntary sector in terms of paid employment and financial resources, using both a broad definition suitable for international comparative purposes and a narrow one tailored to the UK context. The methodology for constructing the mapping are described and the results are analysed, organised by the International Classification of Nonprofit Organisations (ICNPO).

The thesis also sets the sector's current contributions in historical context with reference to its changing relationship with the state, and the role of religion in its development. It explores the voluntary sector's wider social and political role from a variety of perspectives.

The study traces and analyses the recent development of links with the state at a general level, and disaggregated by field (housing, special employment measures, urban development, international aid and personal social services) and tier of the state (central, local and territorial government). There is also a detailed analysis of the historical and recent development of part of the largest field of voluntary sector service provision activity in the UK (under a broad definition of the sector), primary and secondary education. The thesis concludes with a discussion of what light the UK experience analyses in this study sheds on some of the main theories relating to the role and scope of the voluntary sector that have been developed in the international literature on the voluntary, non-profit or third sector.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86157
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: #ethos, Sociology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research > Personal Social Services Research Unit
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:31 UTC
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2022 03:48 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.