Civil society, class and locality

Peter Shapely

in The Ages of Voluntarism

Published by British Academy

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780197264829
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754036 | DOI:

Series: British Academy Original Paperbacks

Civil society, class and locality

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This chapter returns working-class agency to the analysis of voluntarism. As it demonstrates with reference to tenants' associations, the voluntary sector was shaped as much by working-class as middle-class culture, even at the height of the welfare state, with the provision of services generating engagement rather than apathy. Tenants' associations provided a vehicle for the assertion of working-class interests in the face of an often unresponsive bureaucracy. In doing so they ‘helped to create a new decision-making arena, making a contribution to expanded notions of democracy’. That they managed to do so while engaging tenants from across the political spectrum demonstrates ‘the essential flexibility and robustness of the voluntary organization as a form which continued to provide an effective platform for the development of civil society’.

Keywords: working class; voluntarism; tenants' associations; democracy; civil society

Chapter.  7907 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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