Evers, A. and J.-L. Laville (eds.) (2004), Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

This book explores Europe’s third sector – the non-profit organisations and providers of social services such as mutuals, co-operatives, associations, voluntary organisations and charities that are important yet often overlooked features in contemporary socio-economics and social policy. The pathbreaking contributions examine the third sector in Europe within a framework which seeks to conceptually integrate two hitherto separate debates: that concerning the ‘social economy’ of co-operatives and mutuals, and the debate on voluntary and non-profit organisations. Theoretical concepts are developed and debated, and the relationship between the development of national societies, public welfare and the third sector are explored. The book goes on to discuss the crucial role of the state and public policies – including measures that have been introduced at the European Union level. The contributions reveal the need for policy perspectives and forms of governance that respect the added value of third sector organisations, without separating them.

It is argued that, in future European welfare models, it is not the size of a third sector that matters, but rather its overall impact. It is based on research conducted by several EMES members on “The Third System and Employment in Europe”.