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Learning to take part as active citizens: emerging lessons for community organising in Britain

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Learning to take part in civil society as an active citizen has emerged as a topical policy commitment in the United Kingdom, with the present government's controversial Big Society programme aiming to train 500 senior community organisers and 4,500 mid-level community organisers. Rather than speculating on these initiatives in the absence, as yet, of research evidence, this article reflects on previous government programmes to promote community-based learning for active citizenship and the lessons that are emerging from researching these.

After an introductory section, the next section outlines two approaches that were developed by the previous government: the Active Learning for Active Citizenship (ALAC) programme and its successor programme Take Part. This sets the context for the discussion in the following section of the findings from research that explored the two programmes' impacts and limitations at different levels. The final section then reflects on emerging lessons, raising questions about some potential implications in the new (although not entirely dissimilar) policy context.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2012

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  • Voluntary Sector Review publishes high-quality, peer-reviewed, accessible papers on third sector research, policy and practice. It is an invaluable cutting-edge resource for all those researching or working in the fast-growing voluntary, community and wider third sectors.

    The journal covers the full range of issues relevant to voluntary sector studies, including: definitional and theoretical debates; management and organisational development; financial and human resources; philanthropy; volunteering and employment; regulation and charity law; service delivery; civic engagement; industry and sub-sector dimensions; relations with other sectors; social enterprise; evaluation and impact. Voluntary Sector Review covers voluntary sector studies from a variety of disciplines, including sociology, social policy, politics, psychology, economics, business studies, social anthropology, philosophy and ethics. The journal includes work from the UK and Europe, and beyond, where cross-national comparisons are illuminating. With dedicated expert policy and practice sections, Voluntary Sector Review also provides an essential forum for the exchange of ideas and new thinking.

    Rigorous and stimulating, Voluntary Sector Review is an indispensable tool for everyone who values empirically-grounded, theoretically-informed and policy-relevant reviews of the future direction of the voluntary sector.

    Editors: Nick Acheson (Trinity College, University of Dublin, Ireland), Bernard Harris (University of Strathclyde, UK), Rob Macmillan, (University of Birmingham, UK)

    The journal is published in association with the Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN) and a print copy of the journal is a membership benefit.

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