Search Results

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 56 items for

  • Author or Editor: Fred Powell x
Clear All Modify Search
Big society and small government
Author:

2011 shook the world politically. The Occupy Movement, Los Indignados and the Greek Aganaktismenoi (outraged) reacted to zombie capitalism in the West, while the Arab Spring challenged political tyrannies in the Maghreb-Mashreq region.Democracy became the meta-question of the moment. New communicative technologies unleashed a tidal wave of civic protest that spread across the globe, bringing new political actors on to the street.

But what does this protest movement mean? Are we on the threshold of a transformation in global political consciousness? Is civil society the necessary counter-power that is democratising democracy from within? Or are we living through an apocalyptic terminal phase of civilisation?

In the second, revised edition of this indispensable book, the author looks behind the mirror of power and differentiates the real from the fake in policy and politics. It offers an original and compelling history of the present and will have wide appeal to a broad cross-disciplinary audience.

Restricted access
Author:

This opening chapter argues that the socio-political meaning of civil society as a ‘Big Society’ has become a central element in the debate about welfare reform, civic republicanism and political community. The chapter advances four narratives of civil society and examines their socio-political and institutional implications for renegotiating state-society relations. Narrative 1 examines ‘Big Society’ with Chinese Characteristics. Narrative 2 analyses British Conservatives’ advocacy of a welfare reform agenda that equates civil society with eighteenth century Burkian ‘Little Platoons’ in the modern form of voluntary associations, as an alternative to state welfare provision. Narrative 3 explores how social democracy has offered a Third Way through a neo-institutionalist model of social partnership and generative politics between an ‘enabling’ state, a resurgent market and civil society in the production of ‘modernised’ social services, based upon active citizenship. Narrative 4 discusses post-Marxist theorists of radical democracy and social activists who advocate ‘democratising democracy’ as a means to involving citizens in the delivery of social services in a new social contract between the state and civil society that envisages the co-production of welfare.

Restricted access
Author:

This seminal chapter provides a panoramic overview of the relationship between civil society, democracy and politics. It offers a meta-narrative of civil society from antiquity to postmodernity. This chapter analyses philosophical debates about the nature and meaning of civil society in Europe and America, identifying three distinct ideological strands: liberal, conservative and radical. It also seeks to locate the renaissance of civil society within ‘the end of history’ debate. Finally, it considers the role of civil society in terms of the construction of a new political imaginary in postsocialist society.

Restricted access
Author:

This chapter seeks to chart the rise of humanism as the cradle of democratic society. The renaissance of civil society and its relations to both prevailing political ideologies and movements are discussed. It examines the interlinkages and antagonisms contained within these multiple shades of modern political expression. Common ground is found in a belief in progress and humankind transcending its faith. This makes the emergence of civil society in modernity a story of optimism and the hope of a more socially just future for an emancipated world. The chapter begins with a review of the theological basis of charity in traditionalist society and the role of the Church as the principal instrument of social provision. It argues that the collapse of religious society led to the emergence of secular civil society. In the crisis that followed the collapse of the Church’s moral authority, it is argued that civil society filled a social and moral void. New value systems grounded in democracy, socialism and secularism began to emerge. The civic republican tradition of democracy revived the notion of community. Despite Marx’s catastrophic predictions regarding the future of bourgeois society, a new energy emerged seeking social reform in the name of humanism that meant social progress rather than political rupture.

Restricted access
Author:

In this chapter the author examines the role of radical civil society in promoting social justice. The impact of political revolutions is juxtaposed with the influence of early social movements in the pursuit of emancipatory change. The chapter examines a variety of theatres of political and social change including the United States, Germany, Russia, Britain and France. A core theme underpinning the chapter is the socialisation of the state. It is argued that a fusion between the state and civil society produced the welfare state.

Restricted access
Author:

In this chapter we analyse the co-option and penetration of civil society in Nazi Germany in the pursuit of building a totalitarian system of governance. It is contended that Nazification encompassed all aspects of civil society: charities, churches, cultural life and so on. What can be learnt from the Nazi German ‘Big Society’ project is that the dark side of modernity has the capacity to produce a totalitarian world, where terror becomes a defining social and political construct. The grim reality of the Nazification of civil society and its dystopian consequences for human welfare are analysed in terms of pogroms, anti-Semitism and the construction of a racialised welfare state that engaged in violent social exclusion from Nazi ‘Big Society’.

Restricted access
Author:

Chapter 6 moves beyond liberal notions of human rights based upon the protection of the individual. The UN Declaration of Human Rights (1948) was a landmark in protecting citizens from tyranny whose importance cannot be overstated. But there is another tradition of human rights, dating back to Tom Paine’s Rights of Man (1791 - 1792) that links human rights to moral protest and democratic struggle to create a ‘civilised society’. In this chapter is argued that dissident struggles and social movements have become the collective expressions of ‘rights talk’, in which citizens have created (1) an alternative democratic space to Parliament as a top-down model of democracy; (2) a bottom-up forum, based upon multiple counter-publics, continuously seeking to renegotiate power relations and; (3) through the influence of civic insurrections in 1989 and 2011, changed the democratic narrative. This is a vital manifestation of civil society in terms of the collective expression of human rights in the tradition of radical humanism.

Restricted access
Author:

This chapter focuses on the United States of America, the quintessential modern multiculturalist civil society. It is the ‘melting pot’, in which the poor and hungry of the world have been drawn to in the hope of building a new and better life. America is the embodiment of modernity, with which it has an enchanted relationship: that is the American dream. Of course, not all Americans came voluntarily. Afro-Americans largely came to America as slaves and struggled over many generations for emancipation. The election victories of an Afro-American President, Barrack Obama, in 2008 and 2012, were defining moments in America’s multicultural journey. Yet the forces of diversity and progress in America are challenged by a vibrant conservative civil society, most recently symbolised by the rise of the Tea Party. America has its culture wars. This chapter covers multiculturalism and civil society in America. And the neo-Tocquevillian spirit that defines liberal American civil society. In America civil society has a historic importance because of the highly consensual nature of party politics.

Restricted access
Author:

This final chapter asks the question ‘Is global civil society a political myth or a vibrant social reality?’ It is concluded that global civil society will not become a reality until there is agreement about the need for social justice based on an equitable redistribution of the world’s wealth. That is not simply an economic policy objective: it involves a need to reframe the issue within the context of social justice. Global civil society can be the agent of that change. The significance of the idea of global civil society comes down to its symbolic power to influence the way people think about the developing world. Its capacity to transform world poverty is primarily constituted in its capacity to be a communicative social change actor that promotes a cause that only international governance has the resources to tackle.

Restricted access
Author:

2011 shook the world politically. The Occupy Movement, Los Indignados and the Greek Aganaktismenoi (outraged) reacted to zombie capitalis in the West, while the Arab Spring challenged political tyrannies in the Maghreb-Mashreq region. Democracy became the meta-question of the moment. New communicative technologies, unleashed a tidal wave of civic protest that spread across the globe, bringing new political actors on to the street. But what does this protest movement mean? Are we on the threshold of a transformation in global political consciousness? Is civil society the necessary counter-power that is democratising democracy from within? Or are we living through an apocalyptic terminal phase of civilisation? In the second, revised edition of this indispensable book, the author looks behind the mirror of power and differentiates the real from the fake in policy and politics. It offers an original and compelling history of the present and will have wide appeal to a broad cross-disciplinary audience.

Restricted access