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shadow state

  A para-state apparatus comprised of voluntary non-profit organizations providing a variety of collective goods and services. Although administered outside traditional democratic politics or avenues of accountability, the voluntary organizations of the shadow state are publicly subsidized and regulated, enabling their ability to provide services but limiting political activism. Voluntary groups can thus become tools of state policy, providing services, legitimating the state, and maintaining the status quo. Simultaneously, however, shadow state organizations can transform society. They can provide new opportunities for democratic participation, and orchestrate social change efforts. Collective provision through voluntary organizations can thus decentralize political power and decision-making, undermine state hegemony and challenge the existing social order.

Since the Second World War, the shadow state has grown relative to the welfare state in many western capitalist democracies, stimulated by a popularity that spans the political spectrum. For the Right, voluntary groups protect freedom and individual liberty; the Left emphasizes their ability to decentralize power and pursue social change; and the pragmatic centre focuses on voluntary organization flexibility and efficiency. Voluntarism can thus become a rallying cry for a wide range of constituencies seeking alternatives to the bureaucratic state. In contrast, for democratizing nation-states of the former Soviet bloc, the shadow state can take on a decidedly different social and political role, becoming the \'civil society sector\'. In such contexts, where institutions of civil society have long been repressed, new voluntary organizations are essential to state formation. They also serve to reweave a political fabric of traditional interest groups and new constituencies.

The voluntary sector is not uniform over time or space. Strong national contrasts as well as local conditions lead to uneven development of the shadow state. At the national level, prevailing ideological positions on the utility of government in general, and social policy specifically, along with convictions concerning the appropriate locus of service funding and provision within the state hierarchy, all shape prospects for the shadow state. At the local level, economic structure and dynamics; political ideologies of local elites; traditions of charitable giving; and historical divisions of service responsibilities between government and the voluntary sector, and the behaviour of key local agents, strongly influence the rates and outcomes of shadow state formation in specific geographic locales.

Shadow state status both enables and constrains voluntary group action. In the United States, for example, where institutional interdependence between voluntary groups and government is long-standing, many voluntary organizations gained resources through purchase-of-service contracting and garnered political power by becoming integral to the welfare state during periods of welfare programme contraction and devolution. Such organizations are, however, increasingly subject to state regulation through accountability requirements, resource dependence, and legal restrictions on political activism, reflecting a deepening penetration by the state into everyday life. (JW)

Suggested Reading Kramer, R. 1981: Voluntary agencies in the welfare state. Berkeley: University of California Press. Lipsky, M. and Smith, S.R. 1993: Nonprofits for hire: the welfare state in the age of contracting. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Salamon, L.M. and Anheier, H.K. 1996: Defining the nonprofit sector: a cross-national analysis. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Wolch, J.R. 1990: The shadow state: government and voluntary sector in transition. New York: The Foundation Center. Wolpert, J. 1993: Patterns of generosity in America. New York: Twentieth Century Fund.



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