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Below the radar in a Big Society? Reflections on community engagement, empowerment and social action in a changing policy context

McCabe, Angus (2010) Below the radar in a Big Society? Reflections on community engagement, empowerment and social action in a changing policy context. Working Paper. University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK.


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


‘The Big Society’ has become a key element of the Coalition’s Government policy platform, not only on the delivery of public services by the formal and funded voluntary sector but also in terms of communities, more informal third sector activities and individual citizens. Whilst the term itself is recent, and accompanied by the ‘new language’ of social action, there are continuities between the current Coalition policy objectives and those of the previous New Labour administration: the devolution of powers to the local level, the reconfiguration of services and promotion of community engagement, empowerment and active citizenship.
This working paper explores the debates about, ‘below the radar’ (BTR) community groups and their assumed role in delivering ‘big society’. It argues that the motivators for community action are, and have been, ill understood in policy circles. Further, there is and has been little systematic analysis of the power relationship between the state (both locally and nationally) communities and neighbourhoods which can inform meaningful debate on devolution and localism. The paper examines the implications of the ‘new’ policy environment for small community groups and asks can such activity, which has often been independent of, and operated outside the state, be co-opted to deliver particular government policy objectives?

Type of Work:Monograph (Working Paper)
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
Number of Pages:21
Department:Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC)

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Date:December 2010
Series/Collection Name:TSRC Working Paper Series
Keywords:Big Society, empowerment, community engagement, social action, community groups, below the radar.
Subjects:H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Related URLs:
Funders:Economic and Social Science Research Council, Office for Civil Society, Barrow Cadbury Trust
ID Code:787

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