Publication Details

Green, A., Johns, N. and Rix, M., Liberty, national security and Big Society, Sociological Research Online, June 2011, 16(2), 19.

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Original article available here: www.socresonline.org.uk/16/2/19.html.


The Big Society agenda of the UK Coalition Government has had a significant impact on welfare policy as well as the terms of the debate about how welfare should be provided for and regulated. The ripples have travelled far beyond the UK and similar discussions are occurring in different national contexts. One such has been Australia, where commentators and policymakers are considering the ramifications of a Big Society approach for domestic social policy (Cox 2010). This debate no longer focuses on the ‘New Public Management’ agenda with its emphasis on outsourcing to third and private sector providers and the creation of market-like structures and mechanisms for welfare provision. Instead, there is a renewed interest in strengthening communities and developing the voluntary capacities within them to enable them to shoulder the responsibility for service delivery, community safety and reinforcing social cohesion. Nevertheless, effectively the objectives are the same: smaller government, reduced social expenditures and an individualistic society.

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