A report said that public services in the United Kingdom should be reorganized around principles of public engagement and involvement, and discussed how this might be achieved. The report included ten case studies.
Source: Emma Clarence and Madeleine Gabriel, People Helping People: The future of public services, National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts
A report examined the United Kingdom's collaborative economy (defined as the use of digital technologies to connect groups of people to make better use of goods, services, and skills), who used it, how it was used, and how it might be better supported. It said that use was growing, but unevenly, with some groups more likely than others to participate. NESTA's work in this area was ongoing, with further research to be published.
Source: Kathleen Stokes, Emma Clarence, Lauren Anderson, and April Rinne, Making Sense of the UK Collaborative Economy, National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts
An article said that the 'Big Society' agenda amounted to big government, since it employed techniques for managing the conduct of individuals and communities such that the mentality of government, far from being removed or reduced, was bettered and made more efficient. Far from lessening government and empowering people, the Big Society extended governmentality throughout the social body.
Source: Dan Bulley and Bal Sokhi-Bulley, 'Big Society as big government: Cameron's governmentality agenda', British Journal of Politics and International Relations, Volume 16 Issue 3
A new book examined the politics of Muslim integration and related policy in Germany and Great Britain, examining how salient discourses of citizenship framed the discussion about integration in Europe. The book argued for a redefinition of citizenship to account for its contested nature and competing discourses.
Source: Aleksandra Lewicki, Social Justice through Citizenship? The politics of Muslim integration in Germany and Great Britain, Palgrave Macmillan
A report evaluated the short-term impacts and value for money of the summer and autumn programmes of National Citizen Service (NCS) 2013. NCS was a government-backed initiative to bring together young people aged 15 to 17 from different backgrounds to help their personal development and create a more cohesive, responsible, and engaged society. The evaluation measured impact across four outcome areas: social mixing; transition to adulthood; teamwork, communication and leadership; and community involvement. The report said that both programmes were found to have positive impacts in all four areas, and the value of social benefits was estimated to be larger than the costs involved.
Source: Caroline Booth, Daniel Cameron, Lauren Cumming, Nicholas Gilby, Chris Hale, Finn Hoolahan, and Jayesh Navin Shah, National Citizen Service 2013: Main report, Ipsos MORI
A report said that housing associations and local authorities were well positioned to benefit from the creation of social value through creating jobs, stronger local economies, healthier residents, and vibrant communities. However, it said that despite this context, and the introduction of the Public Services (Social Value) Act, one-third of organizations surveyed did not consider social value across all the services they procured. The report made a range of recommendations, including: for organizations to have written policies and nominated leads for social value; for the integration and consideration of social value across all services; for organizations to work with, and support, social enterprises to deliver social value; and for impact to be measured.
Source: Nick Temple and Charlie Wigglesworth, Communities Count: The four steps to unlocking social value, Social Enterprise UK
An article examined how the Big Society agenda, alongside public spending cuts, was affecting the independence and ability of women's organizations to engage in progressive policy shaping, taking the domestic violence sector as a case study. It drew parallels between the processes within England and outcomes elsewhere in the world where civil society had been brought into service delivery, with the result that organizations' independence and ability to engage in progressive policy making had been weakened.
Source: Armine Ishkanian, 'Neoliberalism and violence: the Big Society and the changing politics of domestic violence in England', Critical Social Policy, Volume 34 Issue 3
A paper examined innovative and transferable good practice examples of migrant integration practices that had been undertaken by civil society and local institutions across European member states. It said that the majority of widely publicized examples were networks of cities and urban centres, and found that key issues included: governance and funding structures; the clear understanding of needs of migrants and wider society; information sharing; and the impact of the economic downturn on integration outcomes. It concluded that civil society, with its inherent flexibility, was well placed to play a pivotal role in integration, particularly as diversity increased within the European Union.
Source: Rachel Humphris, Practising Integration in the EU: Mapping initiatives and innovations by local institutions and civil society, Institute for Research into Superdiversity (University of Birmingham)
A report examined the development of complementary currencies and counting systems – in particular, time banks – and explored the role they might play in tackling crises of unemployment and public spending across the European Union. It said that time banks and complementary currencies were growing in number and diversity, and were influenced by different welfare rules, social needs, and work and time use patterns. It said that such initiatives had the potential to improve well-being and mental health, to enhance the effectiveness of public services, and to promote entrepreneurship and self-employment. The report presented a number of case studies from across Europe.
Source: David Boyle, The Potential of Time Banks to Support Social Inclusion and Employability: An investigation into the use of reciprocal volunteering and complementary currencies for social impact, European Commission
A study examined approaches and initiatives to reducing poverty and inequality in the United Kingdom, focusing on civil society-led initiatives and Fairness Commissions. The report said that both represented important examples of proactivity in localities and institutions. However, it said it was too soon to assess the impact of Fairness Commissions, particularly in their capacity to move from identifying issues to addressing them, and the study had gleaned a strong sense from many participants that much more could be done. The report highlighted a need to co-ordinate and scale efforts beyond a local level and to introduce more adversarial-based approaches to social and political change. It made a range of recommendations. The report was published alongside a supplement in the New Statesman on civil society and poverty.
Source: Paul Bunyan and John Diamond, Approaches to Reducing Poverty and Inequality in the UK: A study of civil society initiatives and Fairness Commissions, Edge Hill University/Webb Memorial Trust
An article examined the existing debate around the legitimacy of charity campaigning in the United Kingdom. It considered the proposals set out in the Lobbying Bill and changes to judicial review, and said there were shifts that made the overall context of campaigning more challenging.
Source: Brian Lamb, 'Is charity campaigning under threat from the coalition government?', Voluntary Sector Review, Volume 5 Number 1
An article examined the social benefits that might accrue from work environments that supported autonomous forms of work, drawing on Europe-wide data. There was evidence of a positive effect of work autonomy on volunteer work and political/trade union activities. Overall, work autonomy had decreased over the previous 15 years for all skill levels in the European Union, though there were substantial differences between countries. It said that organizational practices that promoted autonomy should be deliberately stimulated if civic participation were to be furthered.
Source: Helena Lopes, Sergio Lagoa, and Maria Teresa Calapez, 'Declining autonomy at work in the EU and its effect on civic behavior', Economic and Industrial Democracy, Volume 35 Number 2
A new e-book examined case studies from the 'Welfare innovations at the local level in favour of cohesion' (WILCO) project. WILCO was a cross-national comparative study that examined how local welfare systems affected social inequalities or favoured social cohesion, as well as considering policy transfer to, and implementation in, other settings. The project examined social innovations in 20 cities in ten European countries (including Dover and Birmingham in the United Kingdom).
Source: Adalbert Evers, Benjamin Ewert, and Taco Brandsen (eds), Social Innovations for Social Cohesion: Transnational patterns and approaches from 20 European cities, EMES European Research Network
A special issue of a journal examined the role of civic engagement, political participation, and active citizenship in promoting the establishment of a European polity. Articles related to the United Kingdom, Portugal, Italy and Turkey.
Source: Journal of Civil Society, Volume 10 Number 1
Links: Table of contents
Notes: Articles included:
Martyn Barrett and Ian Brunton-Smith, 'Political and civic engagement and participation: towards an integrative perspective'
Cristiano Bee and Roberta Guerrina, 'Participation, dialogue, and civic engagement: understanding the role of organized civil society in promoting active citizenship in the European Union'
Cristiano Bee and Dimitra Pachi, 'Active citizenship in the UK: assessing institutional political strategies and mechanisms of civic engagement'
A new book examined the concept of citizenship, drawing on diverse disputes in Brazil, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America to offer a re-conceptualization of citizenship as a site of constant struggle.
Source: John Clarke, Kathleen Coll, Evelina Dagnino, and Catherine Neveu, Disputing Citizenship, Policy Press
An article examined variations in the gender gap in associational involvement (memberships of voluntary associations) in Europe. Women in social democratic countries had the highest participation rates. There was a 'complex relationship' between societal context and the gender gap in associational involvement.
Source: Sascha Peter and Sonja Drobnic, 'Women and their memberships: gender gap in relational dimension of social inequality', Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, Volume 31
An article examined the nature of civic engagement in Europe. It identified three main dimensions: political activism (such as political party or political action group involvement or demonstrations); involvement in voluntary associations; and political consumerism (boycotting, 'buycotting', and signing petitions). The socio-demographic profile of these activists differed from one another. In particular, political consumerism appealed more to people who had been traditionally regarded as less active, such as women, young people, and those living in urban areas. This suggested that political consumerism reduced the participation gap between different social groups and might carry important lessons for participative democracy.
Source: Necla Acik, 'Reducing the participation gap in civic engagement: political consumerism in Europe', European Sociological Review, Volume 29 Number 6