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Constructing consent : the emergence of corporatism within the Vancouver mental health system Burnell, Thomas

Abstract

An examination of developments between 1970-1990 demonstrate a substantial restructuring of relations between the state and nonprofit societies within Vancouver's mental health system. While helping to establish and support the growth of nonprofit societies, the state, during the 1970's, maintained a "hands off" relationship with the nonprofit sector. Throughout the 1980's and early 1990's, state intervention into the affairs and aspirations of nonprofit societies dramatically increased, primarily through the establishment of corporatist arrangements. Such arrangements necessitated the establishment of non-aligned intermediary organizations to regulate and monitor activities within the nonprofit sector. The establishment and development of nonprofit societies and the subsequent restructuring of relations between the state and nonprofit societies is explored through an examination of corporatism. This examination includes a detailed case study of two nonprofit societies operating in the city of Vancouver between 1972 to the present, the Coast Foundation Society and The Greater Vancouver Mental Health Services Society. The methodology utilized includes analysis of secondary data, archival and documentary materials, and personal interviews with a number of key informants previously or currently employed within the mental health system. Analytic themes from the literature on pluralism and corporatism, along with Claus Offe's theoretical examination of state-interest group relations, are used to explain the construction of corporatism during this period. While the inquiry provides a detailed account of developments within Vancouver's mental health system through a case study approach, broader issues are also explored. The impact of macro economic changes, especially the effect of the recessionary period during the 1970's, is crucial in understanding changing state priorities and the subsequent construction of corporatism. An understanding, therefore, of the way in which corporatism relates to the broader reconstruction of consensus within late capitalist societies is an important focus of this study.

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