Bourdieu and the Big Society: empowering the powerful in public service provision?

Hastings, A. and Matthews, P. (2015) Bourdieu and the Big Society: empowering the powerful in public service provision? Policy and Politics, 43(4), pp. 545-560. (doi: 10.1332/030557314X14080105693951)

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There is concern that the ‘localism’ promoted by the UK Coalition Government will further empower the already powerful. This paper uses Bourdieu’s theory of practice to theorise middle-class public service use. Building on a previous evidence review (Matthews and Hastings, 2013) it considers whether the habitus of the middle-classes enables them to gain disproportionate benefit from public services. Service provision is understood as a ‘field’ marked by a competitive struggle between social agents who embody class-based power asymmetries. It finds that engagement with the state is a classed practice producing benefits to those already empowered and that localism may exacerbate inequalities.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hastings, Professor Annette
Authors: Hastings, A., and Matthews, P.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Urban Studies
Journal Name:Policy and Politics
Publisher:Policy Press
ISSN (Online):1470-8442
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2014 Policy Press
First Published:First published in Policy and Politics 43(4):545-560
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
567971Connectivity and Conflict in Periods of Austerity: what do we know about middle class political activism and its effects on public services?Annette HastingsArts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)AH/J501138/1SPS - URBAN STUDIES