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David Cameron was personally responsible to introducing the term “Big Society” into English political discourse. The concept has roots in Conservative social policies and draws on some classic texts. However, he has had difficulty both in defining what it actually means and on how to put it into practice. Despite a failure to communicate its significance successfully to the electorate, the Coalition government committed itself after the inconclusive 2010 General Election to implementation. However, there is no single master plan, rather a series of disparate initiatives conducted at different levels in government - a modest programme of financial support and promotion of volunteering based in the Cabinet Office and wider political initiatives sometimes branded as “Big Society”, involving the engagement of voluntary bodies and volunteers in service delivery - for example, the promotion of localism, reform of government, changes in the NHS. The future of the project remains uncertain but it will continue in some form as long as David Cameron remains committed.
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Ce document sera publié en ligne en texte intégral en août 2013.
After the General Election: the new context
Big Society: an agenda for implementation?
The basic programme
Endorsement for wider government policies
Some other objectives
Responses to government policies
“We are already Big Society”
Detailed critique of programmes
“This is all about public sector cuts”
Big Society in the current political landscape
Next stages in policy development
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From the beginning of his leadership of the Conservative party in 2005, David Cameron was very clear: the key political objective of any administration he led would be the building of what he termed “the Big Society”. As he put it in May 2011 at Milton Keynes:
‘Is the Big Society some optional extra? No. It holds the key to transforming our economy, our society, our country’s future and that’s why I will keep on championing it and keep on building it, every day that I have the privilege to lead this country’
However, from the outset the problem has been that the public, the media and commentariat and even the political classes have had great difficulty in grasping what this concept means, either on theory or in practice. The general reception of Cameron’s big idea has ranged from puzzled curiosity through baffled incomprehension to outright derision and caricature. Yet alongside these responses another has emerged - a sense that there may be something in the idea after a...
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Nicholas Deakin, « Lost in translation? The framing and implementation of David Cameron’s Big Society agenda », Observatoire de la société britannique, 12 | 2012, 27-47.
Nicholas Deakin, « Lost in translation? The framing and implementation of David Cameron’s Big Society agenda », Observatoire de la société britannique [En ligne], 12 | 2012, mis en ligne le 01 août 2013, consulté le 21 mai 2013. URL : http://osb.revues.org/1291 ; DOI : 10.4000/osb.1291 Haut de page