The problem of letting go: The `Big Society', accountable governance and 'the curse of the decentralising minister'

Matthew Flinders, D S Moon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)


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’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)652-662
Number of pages11
JournalLocal Economy
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011



  • accountability
  • big society
  • governance
  • ministerial responsibility
  • responsibility

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