What is a Shared Society?

Sanjay Reddy over at his website:

Mg_6338b-by-matthias-grauwinkel (1)Yesterday at the United Nations I spoke at a panel on addressing global poverty organized by the Club de Madrid, a group of former democratically-elected world leaders, which has in recent years championed a concept which they refer to as that of a ‘Shared Society’. The title of the concept was recently adopted, to some bemusement and bewilderment, by Theresa May in the UK who has sought to differentiate her government’s social vision from that of her Conservative predecessor, who championed the risibly named ‘Big Society’ – an idea which seemed to import from across the Atlantic while melding confusingly the terminology of the Great Society with the voluntarist vision of a ‘Thousand Points of Light‘.

In an effort to make sense of the concept advanced even earlier by the Club, I suggested that it could be thought of as composed of three themes. The first is that of individual dignity, rights and effective empowerment. The second is that of conviviality, bringing together the recognition of social pluralism with an appeal for involvement in a whole. The third is that of responsibility of all for the common good and for things held in common. Understood in these terms, the idea, and ideal, of a shared society can be applied on any scale. It can quite compatibly be thought of as applicable to the world as a whole, the nation, or local communities, or indeed de-territorialized communities, such as those which might nowadays be created, to ambivalent effect, on social media.

The Sustainable Development Goals, whatever their deficiencies, might be thought of as a reflection of the recognition of a global shared society. The guiding ideas of universality of application of the goals, and responsibility for attaining them, as well as of leaving no one behind, can be linked to an associated normative perspective. From such a vantage point, Theresa May’s recent statement that ‘if you believe you are a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere’ deserves modification: ‘If you are a citizen of somewhere, you’re a citizen of the world’.

More here.