Micro-mapping: what lies beneath the third sector radar?

Androulla Soteri-Proctor, Peter Alcock

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Academic and policy discussion of the third sector has increasingly come to recognise the importance of locating and understanding the range of organised activity that is not captured by sources dependent upon existing registration and member lists of organisations – sometimes referred to as ‘below-the-radar’ activity. Research to identify such organised activity requires the development and implementation of innovative methods to search beneath the radar and map what is found. This article reports on research carried out using a ‘micro-mapping’ approach in two urban locations in England. This revealed a wide range of organisations that had not been captured by more traditional methods and found that they were engaged in a range of activities providing distinctive services and supports within their local communities. The research also revealed the critical role played by community bricoleurs and community hubs in supporting and sustaining many of these organisations. We conclude that this has important implications for research (in developing a new methodology for micro-mapping) and for policy (in revealing the range and structure of ‘below-the-radar’ activity).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-398
JournalVoluntary Sector Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012


  • micro-mapping
  • third sector
  • self-organised activity
  • below-radar groups


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