The Politics of Civil Society: Big Society and Small Government - Second Edition

Overview

In this fully revised edition of his groundbreaking book, Fred Powell looks behind “the mirror of power” to discover the real civil society—or Big Society—that lies beneath it. Articulating three forms of civil society—radical, liberal, and conservative—he examines a complex interplay between state and community, arguing that citizens contend for power via civil society. This is both a historic pursuit dating to antiquity and a contemporary democratic struggle between competing visions of modernity, the stakes of...

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The politics of civil society: Big society and small government

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Overview

In this fully revised edition of his groundbreaking book, Fred Powell looks behind “the mirror of power” to discover the real civil society—or Big Society—that lies beneath it. Articulating three forms of civil society—radical, liberal, and conservative—he examines a complex interplay between state and community, arguing that citizens contend for power via civil society. This is both a historic pursuit dating to antiquity and a contemporary democratic struggle between competing visions of modernity, the stakes of which are no less than “real” politics themselves as experienced by everyday citizens. The second edition includes a new concluding chapter on practical and policy implications.

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of Social Policy
“A book that will be on the reading lists of political science undergraduates . . . [and] it should be read by those interested in the development and politics of the welfare state.”
Community Development Journal - Mary P. Murphy
“Powell has spent many hours . . . reading vast amounts of academic and media print, trying to make sense of the various shifts in power and democratic forms evident in new civil society energies as diverse as the World Social Forums, Arab Spring, Occupy, and the Tea Party. For that this reader is grateful. Powell’s exploration enables the reader to meaningfully theorize and reflect on such recent events. The book explores a great deal of very complex theoretical debate and does so in very accessible manner. He makes good creative use of often long quotations from some of the emerging literature (Badiou, for example) and from the classics, but also draws on contemporary media (he is clearly a Guardian reader). I particularly liked his liberal use of George Orwell. The result is a lively read and a thorough investigation of the contemporary literature. . . . Powell poses big questions. He is provocative and he is not afraid to come off the fence. . . . The task of civil society is to produce the new political imaginary for the 21st century and this book is a worthy contribution to this challenge of creating a ‘social left.'”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781447307143
  • Publisher: Policy Press at the Univ of Bristol
  • Publication date: 5/15/2013
  • Edition description: Second Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Fred Powell is professor of social policy and dean of social science at the National University of Ireland.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
Introduction

1. Doublethink: the ‘Big Society, Small Government’ debate
2. The renaissance of civil society
3. Modernity, civil society and civic virtue
4. Radical civil society, early social movements and the socialization of the state
5. Nietzsche’s revenge: totalitarian big society
6. Rights talk, new social movements and civic revolts
7. American exceptionalism, multicultural civil society and Plato’s noble lie
8.  Global civil society: myth or reality?

References
Index

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