Do Service-Providing Nonprofits Contribute to Democratic Inclusion? Analyzing Democracy Promotion by Canadian Homeless Shelters
Keywords:homelessness, shelters, inclusion, democracy promotion, poverty
Nonprofits are key social service providers in many Western welfare states. Yet the nonprofits that deliver government-funded public services are also an important part of civil society and, in theory, promote democratic inclusion through their democratic civil society function. But to what extent do welfare-providing nonprofits carry out democracy-promoting activities in reality and what do these activities include? Using a survey distributed to Canadian charities that operate government-funded homeless shelters, we find evidence of activities falling within three areas of democracy promotion: support for political participation, internal democratic governance, and representative voice. The variation amongst different activities is presented in ideal types, which can inform future studies of the democratic function of nonprofits. Our empirical results point to a vital role of homeless shelters that extends beyond the provision of basic needs and contribute to a better understanding of the modalities of democratic inclusion for excluded populations.
Copyright (c) 2023 Anna Kopec, Kristin Pue
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