Catney, P, MacGregor, S, Dobson, ANH, Hall, SM, Royston, S, Robinson, ZP, Ormerod, M and Ross, S (2013) Big Society, little justice? Community energy and the politics of localism? Local Environment, 19 (14). ISSN 1354-9839

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This paper challenges ‘Big Society (BS) Localism’, seeing it as an example of impoverished localist thinking which neglects social justice considerations. We do this through a critical examination of recent turns in the localist discourse in the UK which emphasise self-reliant communities and envisage a diminished role for the state. We establish a heuristic distinction between positive and negative approaches to localism. We argue that the Coalition Government’s Big Society programme fits with a negative localist frame as it starts from an ideological assumption that the state acts as a barrier to community-level associational activity and that it should play a minimal role. ‘BS localism’ (as we call it) has been influential over the making of social policy, but it also has implications for the achievement of environmental goals. We argue that this latest incarnation of localism is largely ineffective in solving problems requiring collective action because it neglects the important role that inequalities play in inhibiting the development of associational society. Drawing upon preliminary research being undertaken at the community scale, we argue that staking environmental policy success on the ability of local civil society to fill the gap left after state retrenchment runs the risk of no activity at all.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: #2013 The Author(s). Published by Taylor & Francis. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The moral rights of the named author(s) have been asserted
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Natural Sciences > School of Chemical and Physical Sciences
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 25 Apr 2023 07:17
Last Modified: 25 Apr 2023 07:17

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