Lost in translation? Understanding policy genesis: the example of the 'Big Society'

Courtyard Room, Park House
Research, Social Sciences
Tuesday 21st February 2012 (12:00-13:30)
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Rebecca Berridge

James Rees

Throughout 2010 The Big Society was a key organising concept for the Coalition Government's political strategy and policy development. In late 2011 the Big Society was declared 'dead' by some. This seminar doesn't attempt to explore the whys and wherefores of the Big Society idea. Instead, it traces key themes within Big Society back to their geographical and temporal roots and draws on and extends the work of Richard Freeman to show how the construction of the Big Society concept can be understood as a process of 'translation'.

The seminar explores the benefits of a translation approach, discussing key elements of the Big Society to illustrate what processes, issues, and difficulties arise through policy translation. The idea of policy as translation alerts us to the political constructions and ambiguities of meaning inherent in the process. By analysing three key strands of the Big Society as translation we highlight what was reified, what was lost and how the act of articulating these can open a space for contestation. This helps us question the apparent concensus that the Big Society is somehow post-ideological or entirely vacuous. We also discuss how Freeman's ideas compare to other ways of looking at 'policy on the move'.

Dr James Rees is a Research Fellow at TSRC, University of Birmingham.

Registration is not required, please just come along.

Venue: The Courtyard Room, Park House