Civil Society Futures: Public policy perspectives on civil society

24 October 2017, 4pm

How can partnership between government and civil society enhance the quality of policy making?

Over the past two decades the UK government has periodically turned its attention to civil society and explored ways of harnessing parts of it in pursuit of government objectives – ranging from achieving wider forms of consultation, to attempting to legitimise existing policies, to commissioning civil society organisations to provide public services. In 2017 the government launched an inquiry into Civil Society Futures, with Julia Unwin appointed as the inquiry Chair.

This workshop, chaired by Dame Fiona Reynolds, will explore the recent past in order to unearth and examine ideas to help improve engagement between state and civil society, and to consider how more fruitful dialogue in terms of public policy might now be fostered.

Discussion will be organised to address three broad questions:

1. What do we mean by ‘civil society’?

2. How have recent governments – from New Labour through to the current Conservative administration -- understood and attempted to harness civil society?

3. What future possibilities are there for more effective engagement between civil society and government?

The workshop is funded by the University of Cambridge Economic and Social Research Council Impact Acceleration Account.

Professor Michael Kenny

Bennett Institute for Public Policy, University of Cambridge

Dame Julia Unwin

York St John University

Dame Fiona Reynolds

National Audit Office