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Revealing, widening, deepening?: a review of the existing and the potential contribution of anthropological approaches to ‘third sector’

Lewis, David (1999) Revealing, widening, deepening?: a review of the existing and the potential contribution of anthropological approaches to ‘third sector’. Human Organization, 58 (1). pp. 73-81. ISSN 0018-7259

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Abstract

Anthropology brings a distinctive paradigm and research methodology to bear on socialresearch. However, the profile of anthropologists and anthropological approaches in currentthird sector research is relatively low. The first part of the paper reviews the status of anthropological work dealing organizations generally before focusing more specifically on work on the third sector, focusing mainly on ethnographic research on voluntary organizations carriedout in the 1960s and 1970s, particularly in Africa. This paper notes that anthropologists havemore recently done less work in this area, but shows how more recent anthropological work onbureaucracy, development and policy issues is highly relevant to third sector research and thesecond part of the paper briefly reviews such work. The paper concludes that anthropologicalresearch can firstly reveal more of the hidden third sector by providing detailed micro-accounts(e.g. of informal groups, grassroots associations), secondly widen the scope of third sector research (by throwing light on the diversity of organizational life and challenging Western bias and ethnocentricity) and thirdly deepen the analysis of third sector research through its distinctive use of an actor-centered, process-based analysis of highly complex issues (such as organizational culture, values). The paper concludes with the observation that closer engagement with third sector research might also benefit current anthropology, which has been criticized in some quarters as losing relevance to the contemporary world.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: http://www.sfaa.net/publications/human-organizatio...
Additional Information: © 1999 The Author
Divisions: Social Policy
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Sets: Departments > Social Policy
Date Deposited: 22 Sep 2014 13:37
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2020 01:46
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/59512

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