Big society and political state

Werner Bonefeld*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The article contextualises the Big Society in the context of neo-liberal thought about the character of society and arguments about the state as the political form of a free economy. It argues that Big Society is first and foremost a critique of the existing social relations. The contrasting term of the Big Society is therefore the small society. It argues further that Big Society amounts to an eminently political practice of government. It contends that the strong state is the political form of the Big Society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-428
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Politics
Issue number4
Early online date13 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2015

Bibliographical note

© 2015 Macmillan Publishers Ltd. Self-archiving of pre-print not supported by the publisher.


  • Big society
  • free economy
  • governmentality
  • neo-liberalism
  • political state
  • welfare

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