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Thematic review: Religion and the Big Society: a match made in heaven? Steven Kettell

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The Big Society agenda forms one of the main programmatic pillars of the Conservative– Liberal Democrat coalition government. Ostensibly based on the principles of decentralisation and empowerment, this envisions a shrinking of the state and a greater role for faith-based organisations in the provision of welfare and social services. For religious groups, involvement with the Big Society is seen as an opportunity to reverse a long-term process of waning social influence and to reshape the role of faith in the public sphere. In the way of these objectives being achieved, however, are a number of serious problems, including the current economic and political situation, the particular characteristics of faith groups themselves and general attitudes towards religion in public life. Given the importance attached to the participation of faith-based organisations in the Big Society project, these issues have significant implications both for the future role of religion in the public sphere and for the unfolding of the programme itself.
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Keywords: BIG SOCIETY; COALITION; FAITH-BASED ORGANISATIONS; RELIGION

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 April 2012

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