The Big Society Challenge

Edited by Marina Stott

Here is a fresh collection of essays contributed by community workers and academics unpacking the implications of Big Society for different community settings. Chapters cover a range of interests from Big Society theory to practical implications for the environment, finance, housing associations, poverty, social enterprises and volunteers.

The introductory essay, by the editor gives a very clear outline of the thinking and history behind Big Society, drawing on the work of previous governments and international influence. Stott raises well founded questions and concerns which then help the reader navigate through the book bringing the learning to bear in their own community context.
Contributions from Steve Wyler and Anne Power make for thought provoking reading – we’ve been here before and we know how to adapt and survive, alongside recognising the real impact of cuts on a sector expected to lead the ‘Big Society’ way. Anna Coote suggests charities should take the Big Society concept and shape it within their own goals of social justice and wellbeing. Mark Smith’s chapter provides an excellent critique or ‘role’ and ‘responsibility’ which is timely as responsibility has been somewhat overlooked in all the discourse of Big Society rhetoric. The final chapter from Jess Steele provides good framework which we could all use to assess how we appropriately contribute to Big Society.
The wide variety of contributors highlights differences of opinion and understanding about Big Society. At some points the reader will agree, and at others strongly disagree. I disagree with the analysis offered by Chanan and Miller that there is no fundamental difference between the concepts of Community Organising and Community Development. The disagreement is good for the texts allow the readers to strengthen or reassess their own opinion in the light of fact and interpretation.
 This has to be one of the few books which successfully draws together a range of opinion alongside a detailed and objective resource of factual information about Big Society. It is also a free resource from the publisher.
JW Jan 2011
downloadable below
Published Keystone Development Trust
January 2011
BIG SOC Challenge.pdf1.48 MB