Focusing on the domestic violence sector as a case study, this article examines how the Big Society agenda, coming alongside public spending cuts, is affecting the independence and ability of women’s organizations to engage in progressive policy shaping. By situating the analysis of the Big Society agenda within the broader context of international civil society strengthening programmes, the article considers how the processes currently unfolding in England, share certain similarities to what has happened globally wherever neoliberal policies aimed at instrumentalizing
civil society for service delivery have been implemented. It contends that the policies of the Big Society agenda, which are aimed at strengthening the ‘capacity’ of civil society, are instead creating a situation where the independence and ability of civil society organizations to engage in progressive policy making is weakened.
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