The Conservative Party and the ‘Big Society’

Ellison Nick

in Social Policy Review 23

Published by Policy Press

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9781847428301
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447303503 | DOI:
The Conservative Party and the ‘Big Society’

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This chapter examines the origins and nature of the Big Society ‘project’ to consider how the idea fits with the Coalition government's social policies. It argues that the idea of the Big Society has been informed by three broad perspectives within the Conservative Party these are: ‘Burkean’, ‘pragmatic’ and ‘compassionate’ perspectives. It notes that while the perspectives have much in common in advocating decentralisation and the promotion of civil society, there are critical differences in tone, emphasis and task, which not only result in the Big Society remaining a fairly unfocused and heterogeneous ‘vision’, but which also might result in it taking different forms in the different policies of government ministries. It adds concerns about the feasibility of the Big Society, in terms of both the adequacy of the level of government funding committed to supporting Big Society initiatives, and the capacity of the third sector to fill the gaps created by the withdrawal of central government, in a way that is ‘socially and spatially coherent’.

Keywords: Big Society project; social policies; Conservative Party; Burkean perspective; pragmatic perspective; compassionate perspective; decentralisation; civil society; central government

Chapter.  7202 words. 

Subjects: Social Research and Statistics

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