The Big Society, Localism & Housing Policy

ESRC funded Seminar Series, 2013-14

Seminar 1: Sheffield, 7-8 March 2013

Localism & the Big Society – what do they mean for housing studies?

Convened by: Prof. John Flint & Dr Ed Ferrari, University of Sheffield

Venue: ICOSS, 219 Portobello, Sheffield, S1 4DP


This event was run with support from the Research Exchange for the Social Sciences (RESS) at the University of Sheffield. The final report from this seminar is available from the Publications page.


This seminar explored the implications of concepts of localism and big society for housing policy, practice and research. Key questions for this seminar included:

  • What’s new about the ‘big society’ and ‘localism’?
  • What problems and opportunities do the ‘big society’ and ‘localism’ offer for housing policy?
  • What are – and should be – the respective roles of the public, private and third sectors in housing-related service provision? Where do communities fit in?  What should be the role and agenda of housing scholars?
  • To what extent can the ideals of the ‘big society’ (and localism) be realised in, and reconciled with, austerity and cuts?


This seminar was held in March 2013. A report on the seminar’s proceedings can be found on our Publications page.


You can view the programme for the event in PDF format here: Programme for ‘Localism and the Big Society: what do they mean for housing studies?


The following papers were presented at the conference. Where presentations and papers are available for download, this is indicated and they are available in either MS Word, PDF or Powerpoint. If you have difficulty with the downloads  please contact Dr Tom MoorePlease note that permission to cite this material should be obtained directly from individual authors.


Thursday 7 March 2013


Session 1: The Origins and Implications of the Big Society


Kim McKee (University of St Andrews): The Big Society, Localism and Austerity: Challenges and dilemmas for theory and practice. PRESENTATIONPAPER


Tony Manzi (University of Westminster): Crisis What Crisis? The Rationalities and Consequences of Housing in the Big Society. PRESENTATIONPAPER


Session 2: Conceptualising the Big Society


Keith Jacobs (University of Tasmania): The ‘Politics’ of the Big Society and LocalismPRESENTATIONPAPER


Session 3: Reframing policy through the Big Society


David Mullins (University of Birmingham): Putting the Social back into Housing: Learning through Localism? PRESENTATION


Vidhya Alakeson (Resolution Foundation): A Time for Innovation? Developing new housing policy mechanisms PRESENTATION


Friday 9 March 2013


Session 4: Implications for Policy, Practice and Housing Studies


David Clapham (University of Reading): Big Society and Localism: Challenges for the housing academy. PRESENTATIONPAPER


Grainia Long (Chartered Institute of Housing): The Big Society and the housing profession. PRESENTATION


Session 5: Delivering Housing and Community Services in the Big Society and Austerity Era: 


Implications for Front Line Services: a panel discussion with Paul Broadbent (Former Assistant Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire Police and Chief Executive of the Gangmasters Licencing Authority) PRESENTATION


Session 6: Implications for Localism


Mike Raco (University College London): Managerial Utopias, Welfare Reform, and Disruptive Democracy: Rethinking the Big SocietyPRESENTATION


Peter Matthews (Heriot-Watt University): Local communities and service distribution in an era of austerity. PRESENTATION; PAPER; BLOG