British Politics

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 226–248 | Cite as

From big society to small state: Conservatism and the privatisation of government

  • Martin SmithEmail author
  • Rhonda Jones
Original Article


The Conservative’s modernisation strategy contained a renewed commitment to public services and a continuing role for the state in the delivery of collective goods. Promises about health and education spending were central to the detoxification strategy of David Cameron. However, the article argues that faced with the combination of austerity economics and public support for health and education spending, the Coalition has pushed towards a radical shrinking of the state, but one that is focussed on particular policy areas such as welfare. At the same time, we have also seen a growing integration of the public and private in the supply and delivery of public policy. Hence, the article demonstrates that although the Conservatives’ trajectory initially followed closely from New Labour’s, they have since made significant changes to the role of the state.


welfare reform state privatisation big society 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PoliticsUniversity of YorkYorkUK

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