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The problem of letting go: The ‘Big Society’, accountable governance and ‘the curse of the decentralizing minister’


  • Matthew Flinders


  • David S. Moon


While clear lines of accountability are normally considered a sine qua non of any modern democracy, this article argues that too much accountability can be as problematic as too little. Through the application of a number of analytical ‘hooks’ drawn from the accountability studies literature, it argues that if the coalition government’s rhetorical commitment to a shift from a ‘Big State’ to a ‘Big Society’ is implemented, it may well flounder due to its inability to reconcile the centrifugal forces of devolution and localism with the centripetal forces of political accountability and public expectation. Indeed, without a more aggressive, sophisticated and indeed honest approach to accountability, the ‘Big Society’ is unwittingly likely to forge an even ‘Bigger State’.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthew Flinders & David S. Moon, 2011. "The problem of letting go: The ‘Big Society’, accountable governance and ‘the curse of the decentralizing minister’," Local Economy, London South Bank University, vol. 26(8), pages 652-662, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:loceco:v:26:y:2011:i:8:p:652-662

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