13 years, 6 months ago

The "Big Society" Agenda

Link: http://eamitabh.blogspot.com/2011/01/big-society-agenda.html

Looking back on 2010 and analysing the events, people, decisions which shaped the year here in the UK, there is little doubt that formation of the Lib-Dem + Conservative alliance government and their subsequent policy announcements would top most lists. Austerity measures, comprehensive spending review are probably the most discussed and influential of these. 

However, let us not forget another policy which was the hallmark of the winning conservative campaign, the “Big Society”. Mr Cameron did unveil Big Society plans early in the election campaign and have certainly stayed with this theme post-election victory. In fact it can be argued that, Big Society has now developed life of its own and has been gaining positive momentum in last couple of quarters.

In my brief review and research of the Big Society concept I have come across some remarkable similarities with the phenomenon of “Social Media” which is gathering momentum for some time now and which is now firmly at the fore-front of business and IT strategy in a number of leading businesses.  
This month in a series of posts dedicated to this topic, I will try to establish this link to suggest that Social Media and the ICT strategies behind it can truly enable and empower Big Society as an agenda to prosper in coming year and beyond. However, before doing that it may be useful to briefly outline the context, concept and techniques to achieve as the UK Government and PM Mr Cameron have been outlining in recent months.

The Big Society Network states that, the Big Society is a society in which individual citizens feel big: big in terms of being supported and enabled; having real and regular influence; being capable of creating change in their neighbourhood. The website claims that today only 4 out of 10 of us believe that we can influence local decisions. Only 1 in 33 of us attend public meetings. We feel anger and frustration at the recent behaviour of both the City and Westminster and relatively powerless to change them.

As the Big Society Network claims, the Big Society is a powerful vision to change this, creating a nation of empowered citizens and communities. It sees the core of the big society as three principles:
Empowering individuals and communities: Decentralising and redistributing power not just from Whitehall to local government, but also directly to communities, neighbourhoods and individuals
Encouraging social responsibility: Encouraging organisations and individuals to get involved in social action, whether small neighbourly activities like hosting a Big Lunch to large collective actions like saving the local post office
Creating an enabling and accountable state: Transforming government action from top-down micromanagement and one-size-fits-all solutions to a flexible approach defined by transparency, payment by results, and support for social enterprise and cooperatives
It is also careful to point out that, this is a bottom-up vision, not a government program dictated from the state to citizens. Big Society is about a cultural change where people “don’t always turn to officials, local authorities or central government for answers to the problems they face but instead feel both free and powerful enough to help themselves and their own communities.”

Next blog post in the Big Society series … Making Big Society Happen