only search openDemocracy.net

Can the government's Big Society idea foster genuine community empowerment, or is it merely a smokescreen for cutting back the size of the state? OurKingdom authors provide top debate and analysis of the Coalition's plans for a renewal of civic life.

Ten Big Questions about the Open Public Services White Paper

The government's approach to public services prompts many questions. But one thing is clear: this is about markets over human needs, and competition over co-operation.

Can we become 'happy citizens' in a climate of insecurity?

We are told that a healthy happy citizen must enjoy "meaning, mastery and autonomy". Cameron's Big Society requires citizens to be innovative and not averse to risk. Yet can we become happy and playful in a climate of economic insecurity?

After the march, what now?: International lessons for the UK anti-cuts campaign

It is time for coalitions and collaboration in the UK. These must be strong in order to build an alternative, people-centred vision for how the country should be governed. Here, the author of 'Power in Coalition' identifies four lessons from outside the UK on building successful coalitions.

What can the ‘Big Society’ learn from history?

Governments can do little to build civil society directly but much more to strengthen the conditions in which civil society can build itself.

The absented centre: Middle England, the 'squeezed middle' and the Big Society

If the Big Society is in the middle of everything, where are state, the people and England? David Martin asks in this Friday Essay whether Britain can claim to have a centre any longer.

Association: the answer to both Cameron's Big Society and New Labour's Big State

Modern democracy does require something more than a cynical set of operators negotiating with corporate power while misleading the voters and spinning the press. Associational democracy is a good place to start for any government casting about for an alternative. But first you must accept its diagnosis

The dangers of illiberalism call for a pluralist state

Paul Hirst explored one particular cause for the creeping authoritarianism of the liberal democratic state that he identified before 9/11: the worsening crisis caused by the attempt to govern by one community standard in a diversifying world.

Time to revisit Associative Democracy?

Revisiting Associative Democracy, an e-book, draws together the ideas and thoughts of a group of people who met last October to discuss, scrutinise and develop Paul Hirst’s views of Associative Democracy and their current relevance. The editor and seminar organiser gives us a tour de horizon of the ensuing debate to open up discussion.

Renewing democracy through associations

Participants in the Revisiting Associative Democracy seminar organized last October by Andrea Westall and Stuart White in London’s Coin Street Community Centre were invited to read this usefully condensed account of Paul Hirst's normative political theory, published in 2002.

The 'Big Society': filling the breach

If Prime Minister David Cameron’s 'Big Society' brings religious groups to the fore even more than Tony Blair’s opening of the education system to faith groups, what impact will this have on British society?

The Coalition needs to be honest about the Big Society

The Big Society must articulate its vision and define its expected outcomes, or face fading from the political landscape.

Civil society rejects invitation to 'build the Big Society'

The government wrote an open letter to civil society in November, inviting them to be part of "building the Big Society". The Directory of Social Change has composed a tongue and cheek but highly pertinent reply.

The Left and the Big Society VII: Hilary Wainwright of Red Pepper

In this latest interview in our Big Society Challenge series, Hilary Wainwright, co-editor of Red Pepper, contrasts the coalition's Big Society with ideas of self-organisation that took root in the '60s and '70s. She advocates an unofficial "big society" where communities occupy Big Society rhetoric, and make use of the resources handed down to resist the cuts and strengthen local democracy.

Cameron's 'empowerment' scam

Can the government's Big Society idea foster genuine community empowerment, or is it merely a smokescreen for cutting back the size of the state? OurKingdom authors provide top debate and analysis of the Coalition's plans for a renewal of civic life.

Big Society Dilemmas: a challenge for Tories as well as Labour

The Burkean appeal to the organic 'little platoon' implicit in the Big Society idea rests uneasily with the Coalition's aims even if it undermines Labour's claims to represent communities

Talk of "localism" is a sham without real constitutional power to local government

All three UK political parties talk of "localism", but this is meaningless so long as local government lacks proper constitutional power and independence.

How should Ed Miliband respond to the Big Society?

As Ed Miliband shapes his opposition strategy, he will have to respond to the Conservatives' Big Society. In a contribution to OK's debate on the Big Society Challenge, Niki Seth-Smith discusses how Labour's new leader might shape a convincing alternative to Cameron's 'big idea'.

A Big Society needs republican values

Instead of rejecting the Conservatives' Big Society outright, the left should endorse its values but argue that the state has an important role to play in fostering them.

The Left and the Big Society VI: Rachael Maskell of Unite

How will the left respond to the clear challenge of the Conservatives' Big Society project? In the latest in our series, Rachael Maskell, of Unite, argues that the Big Society idea is simply a smoke-screen for the privatisation of public services.

The Left and the Big Society V: Tessa Jowell

How will the left respond to the clear challenge of the Conservatives' Big Society project? Tessa Jowell MP, former Minister for Culture, Media and Sport, gives her view.

The Left and the Big Society IV: Matthew Taylor

How will the left respond to the clear challenge of the Conservatives' Big Society project? Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), gives his view.

The Left and the Big Society III: Will Straw

How will the left respond to the clear challenge of the Conservatives' Big Society project? Will Straw, editor of Left Foot Forward, argues that social enterprise works best in partnership with the state, and cannot be expected to replace it.

How does local government join the Big Society?

The government has been very clear in its vision that a smaller state is needed to liberate society. But how should local government adapt in order to interact with the Big Society?

A quick history of the Big Society

The "Big Society" idea is a phony PR invention dreamt up by people with little experience in civil society. Government cuts will destroy the culture of volunteering that Labour helped create.

The Left and the Big Society II: Neal Lawson

How will the left respond to the clear challenge of the Conservatives' Big Society project? Niki Seth Smith is asking the leading people and institutions on the left how they view the idea, as part of OK's debate on the Challenge of the Big Society. Neal Lawson, chair of Compass, furthers the discussion, after Sunder Katwala of the Fabian Society set the ball rolling.

The Left and the Big Society I: Sunder Katwala

How will the left respond to the clear challenge of the Conservatives' Big Society idea? Niki Seth Smith talks to leading people and institutions on the left to ask them how they see it, beginning with Sunder Katwala, general secretary of the Fabian Society who blogs at Next Left.

The Challenge of the Big Society

OurKingdom launches an investigation into the challenges of the Big Society.

MPs and the Big Society

Whatever your views on the Conservatives' Big Society idea for the UK, it seems reasonable to ask what our political leaders are doing to help realise an idea they are so keen to promote. That is what a recent survey of MPs aims to do – but the approach isn’t free from controversy

Young People and the "Big Society"

The inability of large numbers of young people in the UK to get on a University course provides some early evidence of how the Coalition government might seek to cater for young people during a time of austerity.

The Big Society, civil society and communities

If Cameron’s rhetoric about the Big Society is to have a chance of being translated into something meaningful it will have to engage with the ideas and experiences of community development in the context of civil society.

Lacking Cohesion? Cameron's National Citizen Service

The government's "Big Society" approach to citizenship endangers other successful community initiatives.

What will the Big Society look like?

As the UK's new Coalition government launches its 'Big Society' programme, surely the emphasis should be on institutions even if these are not part of the state.

Big Society needs Big Democracy

David Cameron's "Big Society" idea to empower local communities will amount to little without a democratic civic space.
Syndicate content