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Introduction to Section 2: Identity

The Third Sector

ISBN: 978-1-78052-280-7, eISBN: 978-1-78052-281-4

Publication date: 8 November 2011


One challenge to understanding identity within third-sector organizations is that of definition. Third sector is a broad covering term that enables inclusion of all organizations working within this arena; yet it does not capture the exact essence of or identity of the third sector. This dilemma raises the idea that there is a possibility of an identifiable characterization of the sector that can be attributed to a particular third-sector rationality and purpose. A commonly held view is that third-sector organizations are essentially caring and provide services or goods that support this object. The aim of working toward an improved society through the provision of these goods and services is also generally inspired by the common good and underpinned by values such as solidarity, responsibility, dignity, justice, cooperation, subsidiarity, democracy, inclusivity, sustainability, and accountability. Whilst superimposed onto issues of agreed definitions and understandings of third-sector actors identity, the space within which they operate is an additional layer. Civil society is often used as a cover-all term to define the blurred space where the complex and negotiated boundaries between state, civil society, family, and markets are played out. All the chapters within this section cover issues of identity from differing perspectives giving a broader view of the particular characteristics whether technological or cultural, which determine how and why there is no one specific third-sector identity that fits all organizations working within different institutional spaces and international contexts.


Gibbon, J. (2011), "Introduction to Section 2: Identity", Hull, R., Gibbon, J., Branzei, O. and Haugh, H. (Ed.) The Third Sector (Dialogues in Critical Management Studies, Vol. 1), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 83-86.



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