Publics, Politics and Power explores the emergence of new forms, sites, and practices of publicness and the implications for public services. It examines the remaking of the public in the context of new formations of the nation, where issues of migration, diversity, and faith challenge traditional forms of solidarity and citizenship. It traces the emergence of hybrid organizational forms and new strategies for governing publics and public services. It suggests some of the ways in which the public domain is being recast around notions of civil society, community, and populist participatory politics.
This is an exciting time to be writing this book. Discussions of publicness and the public sphere have tended to be preoccupied with narratives of decline: public services being privatised, state funding squeezed, public culture debased, politics corrupted, and so on. Underpinning such narratives is a fundamental assumption that any wider sensibility of public connectedness and public action is in retreat in the face of the growing power of markets, individualism and consumerism. The fortunes of the state, the institutions of the public sector, and the public itself are thus deeply entangled in the dismantling of the public sphere.
But in the early twenty-first century we can see the emergence of new concerns and debates – about the environment, security, food safety, global warming, poverty, ...