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Big Society

A conversation about how people are interpreting the concept of Big Society and does it need tightening as Matthew Taylor suggests, or might a 'baggy' concept be a strength and help more people get involved?

Members: 191
Latest Activity: Aug 21, 2013

Exploring the idea

There has been *a lot* of discussion on Big Society over the last couple of weeks. An event, a meeting at Downing Street, a rather poorly regarded piece on Newsnight (to view here), Matthew Taylor has been blogging here and here and David Wilcox has been mapping the potential and social reporting here.

What do you think of the potential and the constraints? How does it differ from what many RSA Fellows and Social Innovators are doing already? How could we connect and develop ideas around this?

Discussion Forum

Beyond the Big Society Report 10 Replies

In case you haven't seen the RSA's latest report on Big Society written by the Social Brain team let…Continue

Started by Tessy Britton. Last reply by Jeff Mowatt Jun 12, 2012.

Ad Hoc Enquiries - First Series Starts 3rd April

The first series of the Ad…Continue

Started by Tessy Britton Mar 25, 2012.

Making the Big Society a practical reality

I have spent the past three years trying to develop a website which would actually enable communities to turn what is a great concept, the Big Society into some practical and real action within the…Continue

Started by Paul Ettinger Jan 13, 2012.

Creating capability for young adult leaders in Northern Ireland 2 Replies

I've scribbled a few words about a positive experience of 'bettering society' through voluntary efforts, based on an enjoyable experience in the Share Centre, Co Fermanagh yesterday. It's not…Continue

Started by Denis Stewart. Last reply by Denis Stewart Oct 3, 2011.

Comment Wall

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Comment by Sharliza Rahman on October 20, 2010 at 16:12
Hello, there will be a summit at the RSA on 9 Nov to discuss how public services can respond to adversity and current economic challenges by mobilising citizen and collective resources to create better social and economic outcomes. It will be assessing opportunities for re-fashioning public services along the lines proposed by the 2020 Public Services Commission. Do book your place if you are interested.
Comment by Adrian Ashton on October 18, 2010 at 12:51
great little presentation on what Big society is all about -
Comment by Adrian Ashton on October 11, 2010 at 13:41
I was struck yesterday how Big Society is very much like Big Foot (aka abominable snowman) = most people don't believe either exists, and those that do can't agree on what it really is...
Comment by Nick Booth on October 5, 2010 at 13:20
It was a brand new backbencher who made the equalities comments. that's the nature of the fringe - off message galore!
Comment by Hilary Burrage on October 5, 2010 at 13:16
Oh. 'We have a world dominated by government which is too rigid...'?

Maybe we all need to think about this some more. For those of us with wealth, influence (power and self-determination), education, good health and full human rights this may be usually so; but what percentage of the population is this, even in the UK?

I absolutely understand that governments can dominate people in dreadful ways; but they can also protect individuals from other interests who would wish to dominate, given the chance.

'Activities' - as compared with regulated action - which are free from accountability, such as the BS is supposed to be, will not always be clear about intentions, and (hopefully) transparent....

And in support of this critique, I refer back to the senior person who I gather said yesterday that the new Equalities Act could be a hindrance to BS developments.

Or think how NIMBYs can behave....

The BS has potential for good or not-so-good, just a governments do, according to how they impact on potential recipients across the spectrum of attributes such as those above.

We seem to be making the assumption that all 'communities' are the same, but of course they are not.

PS Am aware this all needs more thinking through, but convinced it's pretty central to the serious debate - and not much to do with Roy Stewart's apparent analogy re 'noble' truths..
Comment by Jeff Mowatt on October 5, 2010 at 12:27
SAba. I've responded to your blog and here would like to introduce a thread elsewhere about Bg Society which has evolved into an interesting discussion about what's absent from Big Society.

This may also address Chris's concerns since the focus of what I describe has been the most vulnerable i.e.

"They cannot wait, particularly children. Impedance by anyone or any group of people constitutes precisely what the original Marshall Plan was dedicated to opposing. Those who suffer most, and those in greatest need, must be helped first -- not secondarily, along the way or by the way."

BTW I'm still wondering if this is the same Chris Yapp I worked with at Honeywell decades ago.
Comment by Nick Booth on October 5, 2010 at 12:18
Rory Stewart - the Penrith MP who's patch is one of the Big Society experimental areas gave quite a lucid explanation of Big Society at a part conference event I was at this morning:

"It is clearly not about the government per se, the individual or business, probably not primarily about the voluntary sector. It is about community, particularly about local democracy. To use a Bhuddist analogy the noble truths might be….

* We have a World dominated by government that is to rigid
* Solution to this is de-centralisation
* The path is through something called the big society

Big Society is not an object so much as an activity, not a funding stream or a pot of money."

More here.
Comment by Chris Yapp on October 5, 2010 at 12:05
The emerging issue I'm seeing is that the pace at which cuts are to be made is not compatible witha sustainable "big society". I reckon from my experience is that the change management, cultural development and operations will take 2-3 years to develop. Trying to cut now will leave bodies unprepared for the challenge. problem is that big society notion is likely to work best in the more affluent communities and leave the most vulnerable cut off. It will waste a great opportunity
Comment by Saba Salman on October 5, 2010 at 10:47
Hi I'm a new-ish fellow interested in both the practical application of the Big Society concept and seeing how far it does indeed give statutory agencies carte blanche for cuts. I've just posted on business and Big Society (, arguing for greater input from the former into the latter, via the barrios of Venezuela and the city centre of Birmingham. I'd be interested to find out what others think.
Comment by Tessy Britton on October 4, 2010 at 16:46
Hello again - If you would like to listen to Nat Wei's short talk on Big Society at the the Conservative Conference - you can listen here.

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