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February 11, 2009

Futures for Civil Society

Carnegie UK Trust sponsored an inquiry into the future of Civil Society in the UK – (chaired by Geoff Mulgan) – which reported at the end of last year. The section ‘Scenarios for Civil Society’ is worth a look – four plausible yet challenging projections of what society may be like in 2025.

Carnegie UK Trust

Inquiry into the Future Of Civil Society in the UK and Ireland

Scenarios for Civil Society

Drawing on the analysis of the drivers of change and the subsequent Inquiry scenarios/implications workshops, four scenarios were developed (summarised below). Scenarios are not forecasts or predictions. They are plausible yet challenging stories that illustrate what the future might hold for civil society, looking out to 2025, designed to stimulate further deliberation about how civil society might better take advantage of emerging opportunities or diminish possible threats.

• Local Life: Resource scarcity and energy costs lead to the regeneration of local life. Civil society has been in the vanguard of this process, and as a result has gained significant political influence. But there is insularity and competition between localities.

• Athenian Voices (Electronic Age): Technology and innovation leads to far greater involvement and engagement in politics, and in more inclusive debate. But technology can also facilitate and encourage atomisation; it indulges individualism and can transform media from a ‘broadcast’ to a ‘narrowcast’ paradigm.

• Diversity Wars: Cultural, religious, and ethnic diversity – along with social divisions arising from inequalities of income and environmental impacts – has led to conflicts between and within communities over resources and values. But younger generations have more in common – and large scale environmental problems require co-operation to be managed.

• Global Compact: The security state constructed for the ‘war on terror’ is no longer regarded as effective. Civil society associations have led the campaign against the exploitation inherent in cheap goods and, together with global agencies, they play a key role in monitoring labour practices. But migrant labour, which is increasingly needed in Europe, is a different story. States oscillate between local populism and a global view.

Download full report here