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The evolution of the charitable landscape in Singapore: Social enterprises and regulatory power

Xu, ElaineORCID: 0000-0002-1482-2836 (2016) The evolution of the charitable landscape in Singapore: Social enterprises and regulatory power. Masters by Coursework thesis, Murdoch University.

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The nation-state of Singapore provides an informative study on how state power has been subsumed into the charitable landscape through the implementation of charity law and regulations. This thesis contends that regulatory power is concurrently an artefact of state power and a legitimisation of the state’s cultural control over its citizens. Here, the term ‘regulatory power’ refers to the establishment of regulatory mechanisms to maintain power relations and to effect state control over the actions of its citizens.

Additionally, examining the functions and problems of charity and philanthropy reveals the contrasting motivations and expectations that have been imbued into both the regulatory framework and civic participation in the charitable landscape. As the case study of the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) saga in Singapore illustrates, the public’s lack of trust in the regulatory framework then was the impetus for governmental intervention. The People’s Action Party (PAP), the country’s ruling party since independence, had intervened in the charity crisis to limit the damage to its political reputation. This thesis argues that the regulatory framework post-2006 was an enabling factor in the development of local social enterprises, which became an alternative to the government’s model of social service provision and its medium to address social needs.

To further enumerate the power relations in Singapore’s charitable landscape, the exercise and application of regulatory power are analysed using the five-point power relations framework proposed by Michel Foucault. The conceptual analysis unpacks how regulatory power shapes charitable actions by relying on the government’s ideology of self-reliance as a discourse of ‘truth.’ This thesis further contends that social enterprises and the tripartite model of social sector governance extend greater social and financial responsibilities to the citizens, thereby justifying the government’s laissez-faire approach to welfare provision.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Coursework)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Arts
Supervisor(s): Lee, Terence
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