How big is my society?

I have no issue with a “big society“: people empowered to better their local community.

I’m part of what I believe to be a big society project – our local community shop – filling a hole where the market has failed and where the state should not enter.

On the other hand, my colleagues and I could easily be seen as a loud minority. We’re middle class, reasonably well educated, some of us relative newcomers and with (too much) time to donate. We are fighting for scarce social sector funding and we’ve got the know-how to grab our share.

Whilst I have little doubt that what I’ve set out to achieve is for the benefit of the whole community, I’m an unelected, anti-democratic zealot.

On our small scale, this democratic inconvenience is probably not too much of an issue. But, on a bigger scale, if a self-appointed, largely unaccountable minority manages a large project with significant public or third sector funding, is that right?

2 Responses to How big is my society?

  1. Steve says:

    Big society equals try to get the redundant public sector workers to do it for free

    • Pete McClymont says:

      Steve – I don’t think that’s entirely true.

      One tenets of the big society is that it’s not essential for a state dictated solution to a societal issue or problem. Society – a collection of individuals working for the common good (and probably for free) – may be best to tackle an issue free from state control.

      I’ll cut the coalition some slack. The big society would have happened without the “cuts”. In fact, it already happens. Charities and other voluntary bodies already fill social needs. The third sector budget is in the tens of billions.

      But, there is a danger of a democratic deficit, as I tried to highlight. What I was going to cover in another post is the question: if the big state is wrong, why should the state then dictate a big society solution?

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