In 2010, the RSA published Connected Communities: How social networks power and sustain the Big Society, which explored a new approach to community regeneration based on an understanding of the importance of social networks. It argued that such an approach has the potential to bring about significant improvements in efforts to combat isolation and to support the development of resilient and empowered communities.
This paper follows on from that report, deepening the analysis to look at networks of power and influence, and in particular those who are isolated in the community. The paper argues that the government’s efforts to build the Big Society are too focused on citizen-led service delivery. An approach based on utilising and building people’s social networks, which largely determine our ability to create change and influence decisions that affect us, may prove more effective.