In 2011 Demos' work is focused on three key themes that cut to heart of the big questions for social and economic policy. Our projects and programmes all address aspects of these themes, building a more complete picture of life in C21st Britain.
The Way We Live Now
What will define British culture in the second decade of the 21st century? Despite recession and ongoing anxieties about globalisation, Britons are still very proud to be British, and the country retains an international status and influence that belies its size and capability. This strand will explore the elements of contemporary British culture and society which make us unique and provide a platform for a shared identity. It will also explore the implications of social change for individual and community wellbeing.
Britain's experience with recession has highlighted deep-rooted public misgivings about what living in an advanced capitalist society means for individuals. Parents are concerned about the wellbeing of children in a society dominated by commercial pressures to consume. The search for meaning in our working lives is widespread, while many struggle against labour market trends which make progression difficult or a work-life balance hard to achieve. There is wide consensus that the key to social mobility and ‘active welfare’ is improving working conditions, incentives and pay.
Where will much-needed economic growth come from and how can we ensure there are no serious losers? How can we ensure our labour market delivers quality of life, flexibility and encourages skills-building? Can we develop a ‘new era welfare’ policy that shifts the focus from post-hoc redistribution to labour market reform? How can we ensure future generations are not unfairly squeezed?
Business and the Big Society
The Big Society is the Conservative Party's 'Third Way' between statism and privatisation. But the Big Society tends to over-emphasise the role of charities and the third sector at the expense of business, employers and the corporate world. Business can, and does, achieve progressive outcomes in society. From work-life balance to social mobility to economic growth, the central policy questions of the austerity era can only be answered in partnership with the private sector.
This programme of work aims to examine the role of business in the Big Society - to ensure that it is not forgotten or excluded as a driver of social change. The question is not how we force business to 'compensate' us - for the perceived damage they may do - but how we encourage business to play an active, positive part in progress through the everyday work they do.