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Civil Society, Social Policy and Participatory Democracy: Past, Present and Future

  • Fred Powell (a1)


This article sets out to explore the relationship between civil society, social policy and participatory democracy, challenging the paternalistic and egoistic tradition of charity and the voluntary sector as its defining paradigm. Civil society is linked to the right to associate for social and political purposes. Radical and liberal traditions of civil society are compared and contrasted. It is suggested that historically participatory democracy can be viewed as a Social Left that embraces the politics of difference (recognition/respect) and equality (social justice/redistribution) through the mobilisation of the poor and excluded. The emphasis is on the activist citizen (new social movements) as opposed to the traditional active citizen (charity). It is concluded that this version of civil society potentially offers a new political and cultural grammar for the discourse of social policy – that is reflexive, inclusive and democratic.



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Civil Society, Social Policy and Participatory Democracy: Past, Present and Future

  • Fred Powell (a1)


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