I understand the need many feel to protest at the present moment. Anyone who hopes for a fairer world can feel we are going through a lot of setbacks at the moment. When you feel hurt and betrayed, I would rather you went out and shouted it on the streets than you sat at home brooding.
There are however deeper questions that need addressing. The one for me, in particular, is how did we come to this situation. I remember this country when a Secretary of State for Education removed free milk from many primary schools there was a major uproar. Today the argument is about how we feed families who have no income. I remember this country when we rejoiced at the willingness of our country to take people in from the famine in Somalia, now we argue whether we can take solo children fleeing for their lives. I remember this country when there were no beggars on the street, now we discuss how best to respond to them. This change did not happen overnight, it was slow and creeping but it has happened.
I have chosen for this time to talk about ‘civic culture’. I could use other names for it such as commonwealth, common life, social infrastructure, societal interconnectedness. Each has its value. Commonwealth has the role on stressing the shared nature but has a lot of historical baggage. Common life is the term used by the Iona Community which is both its biggest strength and its biggest weakness; often it is seen, once off the Island, as a focus on social justice. Social infrastructure often refers to thing such as ‘architecture in the public realm’ and common land usage rather than to relationships and Societal interconnectedness sounds like current sociologist-speak. So I took civic culture and stuck with it.
This page lists a number of posts that cover reflections on how we got to where we are and what we should be doing about it. The posts are:
and ends with a city of Gold was my attempt to look for a way that builds a positive ideal to those that who imagine a perfect yesterday that we need to return to.
There is work to be done is me spelling out it quite simple terms what I see as the problem with current society. While Why we need to imagine the New Jerusalem goes into more detail and is more technical.
I then start to build on the theorising I did in my PhD and ask what are the Current Symptoms of a Poor Civic Culture. In doing this I am starting to work towards the tasks that I see as necessary to achieve.
I start to build a picture of what a healthy civic culture might look like in Imagining a Vibrant Civic Community and look at the idea of civic culture as meshes. Then I am going to look at three parts that I think are critical to our rebuilding. The first is Encouraging Engagement, then onto supporting a healthy civic culture and finally onto the resources need to draw the marginalised into a civic culture. The last of which is pretty sketchy and is really just thinking off the top of my head.