RESEARCH INTRODUCTION FOR LOCAL VOLUNTARY ORGANISATIONS
A Letter for Potential Interviewees
Dear local voluntary organization members,
Local Service Delivery and Policy Network in Comparative Perspective
I am a second-year PhD student based in University of Southampton and now doing my research project on community participation, which uses interviews and observation to collect data.
I am from China and this research is a comparative study in the UK and China. My fieldwork in Southampton is part of a larger programme of the fieldwork.
The aim of this project is to explore how the Chinese and UK governments promote community participation at local level and the outcomes of these initiatives. Furthermore, what are the similarities and differences between Chinese and English practices and why?
Generally, UK is seen as an essentially democratic, supporting community participation. China is considered as an authoritarian state with top-down power control and strict hierarch system, meaning there is little scope for local participation. However, recent studies in both countries show that they are confront with similar problems when the community organization interact with public sectors and its development. Understanding this basic puzzle motivated me to conduct this research. Here is a potted introduction to my research project.
This research in the UK is part of my PhD project, which sets out to explore community participation in England and China between 1997 and 2017. Specifically, this PhD project aims to explore the interaction between local authorities and local voluntary organizations by comparing two policy areas in England and China. These case studies will be analysed taking account of their different contexts – political regimes, the development dilemmas of local voluntary organizations, the relationship between local authorities and local voluntary organizations, and reforms in public service delivery. How can consultation help improve performance of local voluntary organization and the quality of public service? Despite the differences in political regimes, China and England have introduced many similar reforms at the local level and encountered similar problems in local governance.
After my literature review on community participation in both countries, I identified several specific comparative questions relevant to my fieldwork in UK. If possible, please think about the questions below in the light of your working experience in social care.
- In UK and China, the interaction between government and charity organizations provides many opportunities to meet several, varying objectives through community governance. So:
- How do community organizations negotiate with local government? Do you or your colleagues have any experience of working or communicating with city council
and other local authorities?
- How do charity organizations establish connections to negotiate and cooperate within the same policy area?
- What did some politicians and council staff do when working collaboratively with voluntary organizations or individually to promote the quality of social care service delivery?
- Do you have any stories about the innovative practices in community social care services?
- How does charity organization pool resources to run a range of service projects? In your opinion, what are the causes of the development dilemmas of community and charity organization?
- Do you feel any voluntary organization or group of local residents is affected by some policy changes? Has any organization ever made effort to influence any policy changes?
- In the UK, party politics influences community participation in many ways. However, are shifts in social care policy always Councillor’s main consideration? How do you feel about Councillors’ and city council staff’s commitment to community service provision?
I hope that the outcome of this project can offer a better and deeper understanding of the interactions between local government and local voluntary organizations in the field of community participation in the UK and China. I believe that the practices in both countries can provide different perspective to view the success and failure in each country and even shed light upon some trends and features in the future.
So when it is convenient for you, will you help me by allowing me to interview you sometime in the near future? If taking part in an interview is not possible, it would be helpful if you write down your thoughts about the questions listed above and send them back to me via email (Yongmei.Li @soton.ac.uk). Please see my short biography.
I look forward to hearing from you. Yours sincerely,
Miss Yongmei Li, PhD candidate Email: Yongmei.Li @soton.ac.uk
Department of Politics and International Relations Faculty of Social, Humanity and Mathematical Sciences University of Southampton