Big Society as Big Government: Cameron's Governmentality Agenda

Dan Bulley, Bal Sokhi-Bulley

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28 Citations (Scopus)
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Cameron’s flagship policy of the ‘Big Society’ rests on a society/government dichotomy, diagnosing a ‘broken society’ caused by ‘big government’ having assumed the role communities once played. The remedy is greater social responsibility and the ‘Big Society’. This article argues that the dichotomy is
deceptive. We aim to show that the Big Society is big government, as it employs techniques for managing the conduct of individuals and communities such that the mentality of government, far from being removed or reduced, is bettered and made more efficient. To illustrate this, we explore two major initiatives: the National Citizen Service and the Community Resilience programme. These
projects demonstrate how practices of informing and guiding the conduct of individuals both produce agents and normalise certain values, resulting in the population being better known and controlled. Thus, far from lessening government and empowering people, the Big Society extends governmentality
throughout the social body.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)452-470
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Journal of Politics and International Relations
Issue number13
Early online date19 Oct 2012
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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