The role of civil society as a balance for the power of the market and the state is important at 'theoretical, empirical and policymaking levels', said sociologist Professor Anthony Giddens.
Professor Giddens, Director of LSE, was speaking at the launch of LSE's Centre for Civil Society, a research centre aiming to become the European academic centre of excellence for the study of civil society, social economy, non-profit, non-governmental or third-sector organisations, and philanthropy.
The Centre, headed by Dr Helmut Anheier, is already progressing research into the culture of giving in Britain and into a comparative study of European civil society. Six new PhD Fellowships, to be named after former LSE Director Lord Dahrendorf, were also announced at the launch.
Dr Anheier said: "The work of LSE's Centre for Civil Society will try to explore the development of civil society, and the role of the voluntary sector within it. As the idea of civil society moves more to the centre of academic and political attention, we must take a hard look at what civil society is and what the implications are for policy-making and the voluntary sector in particular.
"Coming a week after the Government's announcement of tax cuts to encourage charity giving, and Chancellor Gordon Brown's comments on the need to look to family, church and the community before the state, the Centre is also well-positioned to offer independent research into UK and civil society."
For more information see the Centre's website at or tel: 020 7955 7205.
Dr Helmut Anheier, Director, Centre for Civil Society, LSE on 020 7955 7360.
Judith Higgin, LSE Press Office, on 020 7955 7582.
The LSE Centre for Civil Society was founded in October 1999 as a research and teaching unit within the Department of Social Policy at LSE. It was established initially as the Centre for Voluntary Organisation which pioneered the study of voluntary associations in Britain and the management of non-governmental development organisations.
Key staff in 2000 are: Dr Helmut Anheier (Centre Director); Dr David Lewis (Lecturer in Non-Governmental Organisations); Colin Rochester and Susannah Morris (Lecturers in Voluntary Sector Organisation); and Marlies Glasius (Research Officer). All staff and associates have substantial experience of work on organisational issues in the 'third' sector (including voluntary agencies, NGOs and nonprofits).
The Centre also offers taught and PhD postgraduate programmes, including two MSc programmes in Voluntary Sector Organisation, and Management of Non-Governmental Organisations.
17 February 2000