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Making sense of the Big Society: perspectives from the third sector

Macmillan, Rob (2013) Making sense of the Big Society: perspectives from the third sector. Working Paper. University of Birmingham, Birmingham.


URL of Published Version: http://tsrc.ac.uk/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=O%2fFyIy5402A%3d&tabid=500


The Big Society agenda has generated a great deal of critical comment in the media, in the third sector and amongst think tanks, and has stimulated some early analysis from the academic community. Despite strong backing from the Prime Minister, it has an unsettled presence and an uncertain future in political debate and the policy process. The third sector is seen as a key agent of change in the Big Society vision, yet there is precious little evidence of how members of third sector organisations understand and assess the idea, nor of the extent to which they embrace it. This paper assesses the changing fortunes of the Big Society as a narrative, and explores how it has been received in third sector circles. Drawing on data from a qualitative longitudinal study of third sector organisations, two contrasting responses emerge: overwhelming scepticism, combined with an awareness of potential opportunities ahead, and a need for participants to ‘position’ their organisations and activities in relation to the Big Society.

Type of Work:Monograph (Working Paper)
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
Department:Third Sector Research Centre

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Date:01 January 2013
Series/Collection Name:TSRC Working Paper Series
Keywords:Third sector, Big Society, narrative, field, positioning.
Subjects:H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Related URLs:
Funders:Economic and Social Research Council, Office for Civil Society, Barrow Cadbury Trust
Copyright Holders:Third Sector Research Centre
ID Code:1787

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