Social Enterprise in Remote and Rural Communities
Edited by Jane Farmer, Carol Hill and Sarah-Anne Muñoz
Jane Farmer, Carol Hill and Sarah-Anne Muñoz Across Europe, citizens are being encouraged by the state to get involved in their neighbourhood activities, community groups and civic life; in public sector consultations and decision-making processes, and even in the delivery of services that once lay firmly within the domain of the public sector. Within and between the European Union’s (EU) nation states this emerging ‘civil society’ policy environment (Alcock, 2011) for service delivery is being played out in contextually specific ways. It is also occurring within the shared conditions of a global economic crisis, strained public sector budgets, varying degrees of civic unrest in relation to government cuts and a demographic shift resulting in increased proportions of older people in contemporary society. Against this backdrop, the Conservative–Liberal Coalition government in the United Kingdom (UK) has drawn upon the Conservative Party’s ‘Big Society’ agenda to promote local, needs-led service delivery via nonstate providers and encourage citizens to work towards the creation of ‘a society where people come together to solve problems and improve life for themselves and their communities; a society where the leading force for progress is social responsibility, not state control’ (Conservative Party, 2010:1). Elsewhere in the EU, citizens are similarly being asked to engage in activities that sit within the social economy with its long roots to voluntarism, philanthropy, co-operatives and organisations that use business practice to achieve social aims. For example, across Scandinavia social businesses are promoted as a means of combating social exclusion...