Centre for Research in Communication and Culture


1 March 2017

From Big Society to Shared Society? Geographies of social cohesion and citizenship in the UK’s National Citizen Service

Presented By Sarah Mills
  • 1-2 pm (part of the CRCC seminar series)
  • Brockington U1.22

About this event

This paper explores debates on the geographies of social cohesion, mixing and encounter, specifically in relation to young people and informal citizenship training. It uses the example of ‘National Citizen Service’ – a youth programme operating in England and Northern Ireland – to raise critical questions about the wider politics of spaces of informal education and attempts by the state to ‘make’ citizens.  The paper examines how ideas about community cohesion were part of the rationale for this growing scheme, targeted at 15-17 year olds and designed to foster a “more cohesive, responsible and engaged society”. Drawing on original ESRC-funded fieldwork with key architects, stakeholders and young people involved in the programme, the paper analyses the narratives of security that underlie NCS and its expansion, as well as exploring the idea of ‘social mix’ as one of NCS’ guiding principles. Overall, the paper critically examines the relationship between ideas of ‘good citizenship’ and being a ‘good neighbour’ in the shifting and contested policy landscape of the ‘Big Society’, and the recent advent of the ‘Shared Society’.

This event is part of the CRCC Seminar Series.