Staff in this cluster seek to understand the social forces and cultural interests that move people to take moral responsibility for responding to/caring for the needs of others; document and explain the institutional organisation of charitable behaviour and its social impacts, the socio-cultural dynamics of philanthropic behaviour and its effects on society, contemporary humanitarianism and its powers of influence over social policy and political process; and to understand the character of the social ties and cultural values that structure the interrelationships between humanitarian action, charitable endeavour and philanthropic intervention; as well as the bearing of government policies and governmental processes upon the charitable sector and philanthropic activity.
Central to the work of this cluster is The Centre for Philanthropy, a leading centre of philanthropy research, teaching and public engagement. Centre staff often conduct research in partnership with charity sector partners on a range of topics and this research informs their teaching, which includes an MA Philanthropic Studies, and the work of the charities. Their expertise makes them a regular source of comment and analysis for the media.
The Centre for the Study of Social and Political Movements also lies at the heart of the Cluster's activities. This Centre brings together work on a variety of contemporary forms of social and political movements and collective action, with emphasis on environmental movements. Their research is methodologically pluralistic and interdisciplinary and does not exclude any topic that can be construed as relevant to the study of social and political movements.
The Cluster also has collaborative work with the Third Sector Research Centre at the University of Birmingham as a key focal point. A major programme of work currently underway is the 'Third Sector Impact' study funded under the EU's 7th Research Framework. In this work, SSPSSR and TSRC are jointly undertaking the UK component of a major European research effort conceptualising, measuring and evaluating the impact of the sector in Europe.
This research also feeds into the MA in Civil Society, NGO and Nonprofit studies, which provides a broad, interdisciplinary programme of advanced study on civil society