Jan 20

Microsociety and inclusivity

Forget Big Society for a moment. We all know it’s a contradiction in terms. Would a member of the Big Society be sociable or big sociable? What would it mean?

I am increasingly curious though about micro society. That could be your family, your shared house, your street, your workmates, your fellow train spotters. I notice that the way we behave, the way we treat others within and without our micro society has a significant impact on the bigger picture. I missed this for years when I was working at a global level, and it is only lately that my field of vision has narrowed, that I spot both the value and the relevance.

You might well have heard this conversation some time
she dyes her hair you know” (nod of head towards the culprit)
typical!” accompanied by general tutting and nodding.

Another reputation destroyed by a personal choice. At least the hair dyeing taboo has been well and truly broken now, but you know what I mean. This is a micro version of much great social divides. A fear of inclusion.

And there’s the competitive element too.  Take this conversation overheard on our local bus

14 year old goth sitting with her friends: We’re more goth than you
12 year old goth sitting with her friends retorts: You are not!
14 y.o.g.: Oh yeah? So do you smoke?
12 y.o.g.: Well, no.    But it’s not good for you anyway.
14 y.o.g. Sneers triumphantly at her mates. Case dismissed.
12 y.o.g. Looks crestfallen.

Human nature being what it is, inclusion seems a constant effort. In our local community events we have every intention of being inclusive, in welcoming all. And we fail continually. Good intentions, lack of understanding. The only reliable answer is to be inclusive when planning how to be inclusive. Which means first finding the willing co-creators. Which means someone has to make the first move. Approach a stranger with a proposition? Until we are brave enough to do that in our micro society, it is small wonder that the powers that be carry on with divisive social policies and an incomprehensible urge to identify enemies.

Let each of us take a microscope to our own actions in our microsociety. Who do we bully? who do we exclude? Who has no voice? Who is mocked? Just notice. Noticing is the first step to improving our own microsociety. Which is the first step to getting the big society we want instead of just accepting the Big Society we are given.

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