How big is the big society?

Charles Pattie, Ron Johnston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


At the core of David Camerons vision for revitalising both the UK and the Conservative party is what he describes as the Big Society. The concept calls for a restructuring of the relationship between state and society, with a substantial movement of power and responsibility from the former to the latter. Alongside a larger role for social enterprises, charities and voluntary organisations in the provision of services, the Big Society also plans for a substantial transfer of control to ordinary citizens, coming together to provide for their own communities. The paper traces some of the antecedents of the Big Society and evaluates the current health of public voluntary activity in the UK. Serious challenges surround both the health of the Third Sector in an environment of public spending cuts and the extent to which the public will be willing to participate in Big Society initiatives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-424
Number of pages22
JournalParliamentary Affairs
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011

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