Seminar 2 : June 22nd : Democracy and Civil Society: Threats and Possibilities

We are pleased to announce the second of the seminar series Democratic renewal in civil society is to be held at Nottingham Trent University on the 22nd June 10-4. The event is free for the first 40 places. To book a ticket please click here

Democracy and Civil Society: Threats and Possibilities
Date: 22nd June 2016, Location: Nottingham Trent University, Time: 10-4

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are widely praised for building a democratic society. They have a proud tradition of social activism, campaigning, and mutual aid that are part of a healthy democracy.

Yet there are concerns that CSOs are losing their independence and democratic voice. The shift from grants to contracts; the use of CSOs as service providers rather than advocates; the use of market-based models based on competitive tendering; the rise of managerialism and the decline in working conditions; and the ‘no advocacy’ or ‘gagging’ clause in grant agreements have all called into question the independence of CSOs. Their position as models for democratic organising and champions of the needs and interests of marginalised communities could be seen as under threat.

This free seminar explores the possibilities and limitations of democracy with in society by exploring the challenges and opportunities that are currently facing CSOs. The aim of the seminar is not only to look at the challenges that CSOs face, but also examine different ways in which new, creative and innovative spaces may be carved out to do things differently.
The session will have a number of key speakers including Caroline Slocock, the Director of the think tank ‘Civil Exchange’, Linda Milbourne, author of Voluntary Sector in Transition (Policy Press 2013) as well as Steve Griggs and David Howarth discussing the relationship between activism and civil society. The last part of the seminar will be a facilitated discussion by Martin Parker, exploring the reaction to the talks and exploration of positive responses to the challenges that CSOs face.
The event is free for the first 40 places and will include food and drink on the day. We welcome participation from members of Civil Society Organisations, activists, academics and policymakers. The day will be participatory and inclusive.
Our provocateurs include:

Caroline Slocock is the Director of Civil Exchange, a think tank that aims to help government and the voluntary sector work better together. She is the Secretary to the Panel on the Independence of the Voluntary Sector, and played a key role in its latest report entitledIndependence in Question: the voluntary sector in 2016. She has worked in several government departments including the Treasury and was Private Secretary for Home Affairs to two Prime Ministers. She is a former chief executive of the Equal Opportunities Commission and of Refugee and Migrant Justice.

Linda Milbourne is the author of Voluntary Sector in Transition: Hard Times or New Opportunities (Policy Press) andrecently retired from the School of Social Sciences at Birkbeck, University of London. She is also an Associate Fellow at the Third Sector Research Centre, Birmingham. She has written widely on the Voluntary Sector and been an active campaigner in the public and community sector for many years, including contributing to recent research and debates with the National Campaign of Independent Action

David Howarth is Professor in Social and Political Theory at the University of Essex, UK. His research interests are in poststructuralist theories of society, politics and policy-making. His publications include Discourse, Logics of Critical Explanation in Social and Political Theory (with Jason Glynos) and The Politics of Airport Expansion in the UK (with Steven Griggs). He has recently published the research monograph, Poststructuralism and After.

Steven Griggs is Professor of Public Policy at De Montfort University, UK. His research interests are in political discourse theory and its contribution to our understanding of policy-making. He has recently published The Politics of Airport Expansion in the UK (with David Howarth) and the edited collection, Practices of Freedom (with Aletta J. Norval and Hendrik Wagenaar).

Martin Parker is Professor at the University of Leicester School of Management and writes about alternative organizations and critical management studies.

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