A month on from the end of an election campaign that certainly wasn’t short of talk of devolution, community involvement, and ‘people-power’ from all three main parties, it is now becoming apparent what participation might look like under the new coalition government. The widely discussed ‘Big Society’ is now being implemented into policy, with Downing Street outlining last month how the idea will be at the heart of public sector reform.
The Pathways team and the partnering organisations have been monitoring the developments and debates around the Big Society with interest, and it seems logical that for such a concept to work and be sustained, it is crucial for politicians and practitioners to have a good understanding of how and why individuals involve themselves in various forms of participation throughout their lives.
The new government emphasises how one of the key principles of Building the Big Society is to encourage people to take an active role in their communities, as well as encourage charitable giving and philanthropy. Such forms of participation can manifest themselves in very different ways, so thorough and insightful research is needed to explore the connections and patterns between different participatory activities, something that the Pathways project will also begin to explore as we go into the in-depth interview phase of the project.