Empowerment or Abandonment? Prospects for Neighbourhood Revitalization Under the Big Society

Public Money and Management, 32(3): 193-200

23 Pages Posted: 14 Dec 2011 Last revised: 10 Apr 2012

See all articles by Jonathan S. Davies

Jonathan S. Davies

De Montfort University

Madeleine Pill

Cardiff School of Planning and Geography

Date Written: April 1, 2012

Abstract

This paper explores the impact of recent trends towards ‘privatism’ through a study of urban and neighborhood governance in Baltimore and Bristol and considers their implications for the big society’ in the UK. It argues that the self-help ideology of the big society has been prevalent in Baltimore for many years and that Bristol too has started moving in this direction. However, the Baltimore experience highlights profound difficulties in substituting volunteering for government-led revitalization. The major charitable bodies in Baltimore operate a ‘triage’ approach, investing only in those neighborhoods deemed ‘viable’. In an era of austerity, economically ‘unviable’ neighborhoods face effective abandonment by the public, profit and non-profit sectors alike. The case of Bristol further highlights the risk to neighborhood governance infrastructure posed by the withdrawal of government programs. The paper concludes that the Baltimore experience is a warning to British policy makers, posing a major dilemma. Sustaining neighborhood revitalization efforts require the very public investment now being cut by the Coalition government. The voluntarism of the 'Big Society' is likely to be a poor substitute.

Keywords: neighbourhood, urban, governance, Baltimore, Bristol, big society

Suggested Citation

Davies, Jonathan S. and Pill, Madeleine, Empowerment or Abandonment? Prospects for Neighbourhood Revitalization Under the Big Society (April 1, 2012). Public Money and Management, 32(3): 193-200. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1971693

Jonathan S. Davies (Contact Author)

De Montfort University ( email )

Hugh Aston Building
The Gateway
Leicester, East Midlands LE1 9BH
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.dmu.ac.uk/professor-jonathan-davies

Madeleine Pill

Cardiff School of Planning and Geography ( email )

Glamorgan Building
King Edward VII Avenue
Cardiff CF 10 3WA, Wales
United Kingdom

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