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Open Access Bourdieu and the Big Society: empowering the powerful in public service provision?

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There is concern that the 'localism' promoted by the UK Coalition Government will further empower the already powerful. This paper uses Bourdieu's theory of practice to theorise middle-class public service use. Building on a previous evidence review (Matthews and Hastings, 2013) it considers whether the habitus of the middle-classes enables them to gain disproportionate benefit from public services. Service provision is understood as a 'field' marked by a competitive struggle between social agents who embody class-based power asymmetries. It finds that engagement with the state is a classed practice producing benefits to those already empowered and that localism may exacerbate inequalities.

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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Email: [email protected] 2: Email: [email protected]

Publication date: October 1, 2015

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