Mediating the Crisis – Voluntary sector geographies in turbulent times

Type: Virtual Paper
Sponsor Groups:
Poster #:
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM (PDT)
Room: Virtual 25
Organizers: Melissa Fielding
Chairs: Edward Kiely


The voluntary sector, suggest DeVerteuil, Power & Trudeau (2020, p.932), ‘acts more as a mediator than a conduit for neoliberal policies’. As the global economy weathers its deepest crisis since the Great Depression, this session considers contemporary geographies of the voluntary sector, and examines the divergent forms that this mediation can take.

Following welfare state retrenchments during the 1980s, a newly expanded voluntary sector was described as a ‘shadow state’ (Wolch, 1990) – a demonstration that ‘rollback neoliberalism’ (Peck & Tickell, 2002) did not simply shrink the state, but hollowed out some capacities and expanded others (Peck, 2001). Similar contradictory dynamics emerged in the aftermath of the 2008 recession. In the US, national and state governments ‘dumped’ fiscal crisis at the city level, while expanding outsourcing and privatisation (Peck, 2014). In the UK, severe cuts were unevenly distributed across local authorities (Gray & Barford, 2018), while the national government propounded an ethno-nationalist vision of citizenship centred on a totemic National Health Service (Fitzgerald et al., 2020).

Amid the present crisis, there is early evidence to suggests that a further reshaping of the relations between state and shadow state, nation and region, centre and periphery is underway. The US has seen an expansion of federal government jobs while those in health care and in local government have fallen sharply (Ettlinger & Hensley 2020). Meanwhile, the UK government’s package of economic support for local authorities has been insufficient, forcing many into deficit (Philips & Ogden, 2020) and ensuring further rounds of cuts to services. Yet this is in parallel with vast increases to central government spending and a rhetorical disavowal of austerity measures.

This session features contributions which explore these complex and dynamic relations, and how they are mediated through voluntary sector geographies (DeVerteuil, Power & Trudeau, 2020). How does the voluntary sector exacerbate, mitigate or ameliorate these political and economic trends?


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Melissa Fielding*, University of Cambridge, The Rise of Tenants' Associations: Power and Resistance in a Time of Crisis 15 3:05 PM
Presenter Andrew Power*, Geography and Environment, Voluntary support in a 'post-austerity' landscape: Bidding for non-state funding to support precarious lives 15 3:20 PM
Presenter Alice Chadwick*, University of Bath, Global and National voluntary sector assemblages: construction of ‘good’ citizenship through volunteering in Sierra Leone 15 3:35 PM
Presenter Rosalie Warnock*, Queen Mary University of London, They don’t know what they’re missing: Parent-run support groups and access to SEND services in London 15 3:50 PM
Presenter Laura Crawford*, Northumbria University, Irene Hardill*, Northumbria University, Mobilising voluntary action: a comparative analysis of voluntary action across the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic 15 4:05 PM

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