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Social Policy Review 23Analysis and Debate in Social Policy, 2011$
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Chris Holden, Majella Kilkey, and Gaby Ramia

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781847428301

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847428301.001.0001

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The Conservative Party and the ‘Big Society’

The Conservative Party and the ‘Big Society’

Chapter:
(p.44) (p.45) Three The Conservative Party and the ‘Big Society’
Source:
Social Policy Review 23
Author(s):

Ellison Nick

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781847428301.003.0003

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

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