The perception by the public, politicians or academics of the role of NGOs with regard to social policy in general, and social quality in particular, is often incoherent. Although these organisations are widely appreciated and supported, there are no clear views on their often contradictory role in the democratic process, and they are defined in narrow, yet widely differing ways. NGOs are usually not addressed in the analysis of broader approaches of social-policy arrangements, and their study is mainly concerned with organisational perspectives, sometimes viewing them as economic entities rather than as social actors. NGOs have also been largely ignored in the analysis of social quality. This is clearly shown in the first publications to come out of the 'Social Quality Initiative', in which most of the contributions fail to regard NGOs as a specific subject, and the few which do mostly look at organisational issues.