Skip Content

The 'Big Society' and concentrated neighbourhood problems

Publications • Sociology • Anne Power

The term ‘Big Society’ was first coined by David Cameron in 2009, but the notion that local groups of citizens can make democratic decisions in the best interest of their local communities has longer roots. Here Anne Power sets out its history in the mutuals and cooperatives formed to combat the devastating effects of nineteenth century industrialisation, and 1960s and 70s movements such as the American ‘Great Society’ and the UK Community Development Projects.

The ‘Big Society’ and concentrated neighbourhood problems concludes that communities and the state are interdependent. In their capacity to tackle local problems, communities rely not only on the initiative, commitment and motivation of ordinary citizens, but on government for a strong supportive public framework which includes steady, low-level funding.

The 'Big Society' and concentrated neighbourhood problems is the seventh and final report in the New paradigms in public policy series, chaired by Peter Taylor-Gooby FBA.

The project reviews some particularly difficult issues in public policy: climate change, multiculturalism, recession and recovery, population ageing, neighbourhood problems and the Third Sector, rebuilding democratic engagement and managing the demands of an increasingly assertive public. The series reviews current understanding of the issues, situated within academic theory-building, and discusses possible ways forward.

Working group:
Andrew Gamble FBA
Ian Gough
Tariq Modood
Anne Power
Gerry Stoker
Peter Taylor-Gooby FBA (chair)
Pat Thane FBA 


Publication date: 11 Sep 2012

ISBN number: 978-0-85672-604-0

Author: Anne Power