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The Ages of VoluntarismHow we got to the Big Society$
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Matthew Hilton and James McKay

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780197264829

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197264829.001.0001

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Civil society, class and locality

Civil society, class and locality

Tenant groups in post-war Britain

Chapter:
(p.94) 5 Civil society, class and locality
Source:
The Ages of Voluntarism
Author(s):

Peter Shapely

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197264829.003.0005

This chapter returns working-class agency to the analysis of voluntarism. As it demonstrates with reference to tenants' associations, the voluntary sector was shaped as much by working-class as middle-class culture, even at the height of the welfare state, with the provision of services generating engagement rather than apathy. Tenants' associations provided a vehicle for the assertion of working-class interests in the face of an often unresponsive bureaucracy. In doing so they ‘helped to create a new decision-making arena, making a contribution to expanded notions of democracy’. That they managed to do so while engaging tenants from across the political spectrum demonstrates ‘the essential flexibility and robustness of the voluntary organization as a form which continued to provide an effective platform for the development of civil society’.

Keywords:   working class, voluntarism, tenants' associations, democracy, civil society

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