Criticisms of third sector/community work?

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xslavearcx's picture
Joined: 21-10-10
Jul 6 2012 16:52
Criticisms of third sector/community work?


Recently i have become interested in finding critiques of the third sector borne by my experiences working there for nearly 5 years. For this period i've had one irk in reference to the fact that the labour that i employed as a volunteer worker has a) not been paid and b) does not seem to constitute experierience that gives me as much power to negotiate myself in the labour market than if i had done the exact same work but on a paid basis. The source of my irk is simply this rather petty (perhaps) point. That a private buisness would be subject to minimum wage restrictions whilst the voluntary sector can employ staff with no recompense - whilst at the same time marketing itself in the language of empowerment. To me this leaves me with a bit more respect for the honest capitalist of a private buisness wherby it is understood that they are exploiting ones labour power as the input into the valorisation process but, at least at the end of the day, they are pretty honest about that thier gains out of your labour is greater than the gains that one gets in ones distrubution of the output of ones labour. Meanwhile in the voluntary sector one is patronised with the language of empowerment whilst getting paid nothing and that ones acquired skills does not communicate itself as well in the labour market than if it was under conditions of paid labour.

My second gripe is that it seems that in community work, when one formulates a funding app that one should market the social problems that one is going to intervene into in as great a manner as possible in order to get money for ones organisation. For instance the area that i just did a funding app for has the useful qualites of being high in the multiple deprivation index and has a rather diverse population, both qualites combined makes a convincing case for one to get money to wave the magic wand of empowerment about in the present policy context. In essence it seems that the greater the social problems the greater the resource can exploit to the advantages of ones organisation.

Again this seems to me to perpetuate a disparity of the spoils of what the organisation gains and what the 'disempowered' community gains. Namely that when i was when i was sucessfull with this funding app, the power it gives to me to negotiate myself in the labour market through added value it gives to my cv is going to be far greater than what any service user in this community gets in terms of outcomes from when the programme is implemented.

Today i started wrting my thoughts on this matter, which at this stage are rather inchoate, with the working title is at the moment 'fuck community work' but i would like to shape it into somethign with a bit more substance and coherance with the aim of maybe putting it out there as a critique in a blog format or something. I was wondering therefore if there is any stuff out there i can read?

cheers !

knotwho's picture
Joined: 13-01-11
Jul 6 2012 18:25

These might be of help, though they are both more focused on organizing in the nonprofit context:

Guide for the Exploited Nonprofit Workers, Issue 1, Dec 2011

Organizing In The Nonprofit Industrial Complex (from the latest Industrial Worker)

Anarchia's picture
Joined: 18-03-06
Jul 7 2012 07:28

a critique of NGOism (page 56 onwards in this .pdf)