People, Politics and Participation: The Public Sphere in Modern Britain - SO714

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2020 to 2021.


This module explores the nature of the public sphere in Britain, how groups and individuals from all social classes engage with the state, non-governmental actors/agencies and party politics. Students will examine topics including the role of the state and NGOs, citizenship, social capital, devolution and the 'new localism' and the internet and politics. The major schools of thought that theoretically represent the interrelationships between politics, social structures, ideologies and culture will be explored throughout the module. Indicative topics of study include:
• The British political system and structure
• The state
• Non-state actors and agents, including the voluntary sector
• Civil society
• Social capital
• Citizenship
• Devolution and the 'new localism'
• Web 2.0, the media and the British public sphere
• The Big Society


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

2 hours per week


Runs every other year

Method of assessment

The assessment for this module is composed of one essay of 3,000 words, worth 80% of the final mark, and a group presentation worth 20%.

Indicative reading

Crowson, Nick et al (2009) NGOs in Contemporary Britain: Non-State Actors in Society and Politics since 1945. Basingstoke: Palgrave
Deakin, Nicholas. (2001) In Search of Civil Society. Basingstoke: Palgrave
Faulks, Keith. (2000) Citizenship. London: Routledge
Halpern, David .(2005) Social Capital. Oxford: Polity
Bradley, Kate. (2009) Poverty, Philanthropy and the State: Charities and the Working Classes in London, 1918-1979. Manchester: Manchester University Press

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

At the end of the module, students will:

Have acquired detailed knowledge of the importance of a critical, social scientific approach to the public sphere in Britain

Be able to demonstrate an advanced conceptual understanding of the British political system and public sphere, and its development

Be able to critically evaluate arguments, assumptions, abstract concepts and data regarding varying methods and ways in which individuals and groups shape and interact with the public sphere, drawing upon perspectives from sociology, social policy and history

Be able to effectively communicate key debates regarding the factors that shape involvement or non-involvement in British public and political life, drawing upon perspectives from sociology, social policy and history

Be able to draw upon social science techniques and theories to describe and explain the structures and processes involved in British public and political life, including utilising key disciplinary concepts to define the uncertainty, ambiguity and limits of knowledge regarding central political debates.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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