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The allure of the “Big Society”: conveying authority in an era of uncertainty


Jacobs, K, The allure of the 'Big Society': conveying authority in an era of uncertainty, Housing, Theory and Society pp. 1-15. ISSN 1403-6096 (2014) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2014 IBF, The Institute for Housing and Urban Research

DOI: doi:10.1080/14036096.2014.947171


The inception and roll out of the UK Government’s Big Society agenda offers an opportunity to consider the changing modalities of contemporary political engagement. Much of the critical scholarship on the Big Society views it as a rationale to legitimize both a reconfiguration of the welfare state and an austerity programme to reduce government debt. While these interpretations are helpful, they explain only partially the appeal of these agendas for politicians and their political parties. The key question explored in this article is why, despite the hostility and cynicism towards ideological projects such as Big Society, do politicians continue to identify and pursue them? I argue that the Big Society agenda is only in part a rationale for austerity and welfare reform; it also provides a discursive setting for politicians to address societal anxieties by offering a navigable route for the future. Although the Big Society agenda has been roundly derided, its Manichean morality tale offers assurance at a time when politics is being reshaped by neoliberal ideology, changing media practices and globalization processes.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Welfare reform, Big society, Psychosocial
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Sociology
Research Field:Urban sociology and community studies
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:Government and politics
Objective Field:Government and politics not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Jacobs, K (Professor Keith Jacobs)
ID Code:94163
Year Published:2014
Web of Science® Times Cited:4
Deposited By:School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2014-09-02
Last Modified:2015-05-04

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