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July 16, 2008

Strengthening Civil Society

In 2006, the Carnegie UK Trust opened its Democracy and Civil Society Programme. Their document ‘Futures for civil society’ is gathered from the insights of 400 people around the UK. Phase 2 of their work will explore ‘Burning Issues for Civil Society’

Carnegie UK Trust

The Inquiry futures work identified a number of ‘fault-lines’ [key concerns] that underpin the Inquiry’s work going forward. The key fault-lines identified are:

The challenge of sustainability. Participants in the Inquiry events were clearly concerned about the growing pressure on global resources and the associated threat this may have on civil society as the ‘good’ society.

Growing isolation of the poorest. There is a strong sense from the Inquiry events that economic polarisation between the rich and the poor and the associated growing social divides are likely to significantly affect civil society. The challenge for civil society associations is to support and to empower the most marginalised and ensure that their voices are heard and acted upon.

Social cohesion under pressure. In addition to fears that society will further fragment along socio-economic grounds, there is a notion that increased cultural and religious diversity may lead to further fragmentation of civil society.

Diminishing arenas for public deliberation. One of the most common themes from throughout the Inquiry events concerned the underlying weakness of the arenas for public deliberation.

Marginalisation of dissent. Concerns were raised about the marginalisation of dissent in the UK and Ireland, especially in relation to those that lack power or confidence to voice their concerns or those who have non-mainstream views.

These faultines highlight a number of ‘burning issues’ which the Inquiry will investigate over the coming year. For more information about each of the ‘burning issues’ please click on the headings on the right.