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The three cultures: towards a cultural understanding of a third sector organisation

The three cultures: towards a cultural understanding of a third sector organisation
The three cultures: towards a cultural understanding of a third sector organisation
This thesis is intended to promote a cultural understanding of a third sector organisation as having a culturally heterogeneous ontology. That is, the organisation focussed on here is constituted by three different cultures; its ontology is realised by the discursive and social practices of these cultures. Mary Douglas’s Cultural Theory was applied to the case study to provide an analytical framework and theoretical lexicon with which to empirically demonstrate the organisation’s cultural heterogeneity. This new understanding of a third sector organisation is an intentional counterpoint to the conventional politics-and-policy influenced conceptualisation of third sector organisations as being, in the main, social policy constructs. Indeed, a critical analysis of current academic knowledge of third sector organisations shows that they have principally been analysed within a social policy set of literatures in which social policy analysts are the predominant thinkers and knowledge creators. This has produced very particular definitions and conceptualisations of these organisations based on a limited set of ontological assumptions that this case study provides a critique of.

The case in point is a large Citizens Advice charity (comprising of eight advice centres) spread across a county in England; multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork was conducted over a six-month period between 2014 and 2015. Importantly, the fieldwork was conducted during a period of organisational change which provided a refined lens through which to glean the participants understanding of themselves, who they preferred to be in social solidarity with and how they wished to be socially regulated in the moment of organisational flux. Finally, how the participants began to manifest their cultural differences was based on their separate understandings of what the organisation was, what its purpose was, and therefore, what they believed the best way to respond to the changes were.

One of the organisational changes was the introduction of a new Localism Policy mandated on the organisation. Cultural Theory had utility in enriching the analysis of how the organisation’s participants in their different cultural groups began to grapple with and confront implementing the localism policy in ways that were consistent with their cultural preferences, but also were, in some instances, discordant with the intended policy outcomes. Cultural Theory therefore had both theoretical and practical utility in demonstrating not only the cultural heterogeneity of the organisation but also how this influenced policy implementation in uneven and unstable ways that were not necessarily consistent with the aims of the localism policy.
University of Southampton
Collins, Taryn Elizabeth
c02be3c9-5ace-43f2-9eb8-c111656e3b3b
Collins, Taryn Elizabeth
c02be3c9-5ace-43f2-9eb8-c111656e3b3b
Leonard, Pauline
a2839090-eccc-4d84-ab63-c6a484c6d7c1

Collins, Taryn Elizabeth (2019) The three cultures: towards a cultural understanding of a third sector organisation. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 175pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

This thesis is intended to promote a cultural understanding of a third sector organisation as having a culturally heterogeneous ontology. That is, the organisation focussed on here is constituted by three different cultures; its ontology is realised by the discursive and social practices of these cultures. Mary Douglas’s Cultural Theory was applied to the case study to provide an analytical framework and theoretical lexicon with which to empirically demonstrate the organisation’s cultural heterogeneity. This new understanding of a third sector organisation is an intentional counterpoint to the conventional politics-and-policy influenced conceptualisation of third sector organisations as being, in the main, social policy constructs. Indeed, a critical analysis of current academic knowledge of third sector organisations shows that they have principally been analysed within a social policy set of literatures in which social policy analysts are the predominant thinkers and knowledge creators. This has produced very particular definitions and conceptualisations of these organisations based on a limited set of ontological assumptions that this case study provides a critique of.

The case in point is a large Citizens Advice charity (comprising of eight advice centres) spread across a county in England; multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork was conducted over a six-month period between 2014 and 2015. Importantly, the fieldwork was conducted during a period of organisational change which provided a refined lens through which to glean the participants understanding of themselves, who they preferred to be in social solidarity with and how they wished to be socially regulated in the moment of organisational flux. Finally, how the participants began to manifest their cultural differences was based on their separate understandings of what the organisation was, what its purpose was, and therefore, what they believed the best way to respond to the changes were.

One of the organisational changes was the introduction of a new Localism Policy mandated on the organisation. Cultural Theory had utility in enriching the analysis of how the organisation’s participants in their different cultural groups began to grapple with and confront implementing the localism policy in ways that were consistent with their cultural preferences, but also were, in some instances, discordant with the intended policy outcomes. Cultural Theory therefore had both theoretical and practical utility in demonstrating not only the cultural heterogeneity of the organisation but also how this influenced policy implementation in uneven and unstable ways that were not necessarily consistent with the aims of the localism policy.

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Published date: July 2019

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 444062
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/444062
PURE UUID: 8b84e64a-237f-4f47-bcca-a21ff246c301
ORCID for Pauline Leonard: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-8112-0631

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Date deposited: 23 Sep 2020 16:50
Last modified: 22 Mar 2022 02:34

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Contributors

Author: Taryn Elizabeth Collins
Thesis advisor: Pauline Leonard ORCID iD

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