Increasingly central to public policy debates in the UK, the voluntary sector is one of the fastest growing segments of the economy. The agencies situated between the market and the state are the lifeblood of the organized civil society. This new textbook examines whether these expectations are well founded, through detailed examination of the rhetoric and practice of voluntary sector action. Adopting a comparative approach to the subject, The Voluntary Sector examines the sector's relationship to policy, progress and politics. It features insights from a major international study, as well as from other comparative research, to answer questions such as: How does the voluntary sector contribute to the UK economy? What is distinctive about voluntary sector policy? How does the sector compare with the public and private sectors? Providing an accessible and indpeth overview of the area, this new textbook demonstrates as never before the remarkable diversity which characterises the voluntary sector in Britain and is essential reading for anyone studying or working in the voluntary sector.