Social Policy Association 2011: Bigger Societies, Smaller Governments?
Cutting the beast down to size: The Big Society in action, from Whitehall to community hall
This Coprodnet symposium aims to cut through the political rhetoric associated with the Big Society agenda to focus on the roles, responsibilities and methods of implementation from Whitehall to local communities. The session begins with an exploration of the seemingly neglected question of what the practical role of central government will be in this decentralist, small-state political strategy. Next, the appropriateness of contemporary approaches to public management and governance are critically assessed as means of conceptualising and communicating the complex, citizen-led change implied in the Big Society agenda. Finally the session gets down to the grassroots level, reporting on empirical data from two different studies of community activism and co-production, in the form of qualitative interviews and primary social networks data, focussing both on lessons for policy practice and for future academic research in this policy domain. By examining the Big Society concept at a number of different institutional and analytical levels, it is intended that the symposium should provide both breadth and depth of discussion, to generate fresh perspectives, whilst taking advantage of new empirical data to ground it in the social reality from which it may be too easily detached in political and conceptual debate.
‘What is Whitehall for anymore? Exploring the role of central government in a co- produced public system’ - Ben Robinson (New Economics Foundation) and James Mackie (National School of Government)
‘Public Management and Governance for Co-producing Community Resilience in the Big Society’ - James Duggan (School of Education, University of Manchester)
‘Co-production in local public service reform: perspectives from a network of Northern Town Halls’ - Jenni Viitanen (Institute Public Policy Research and School of Environment and Development, University of Manchester)
‘Connecting the grid: Big Society lessons from a networks survey of community engagement and co-production in the regeneration of east Manchester’ - Beth Carley (Cathie Marsh Centre for Census and Survey Research, University of Manchester)