Civil society is a heterogeneous field comprising an array of diverse organisations, groups, networks, associations and initiatives. It is often attributed salvationist functions whether from a neo-liberal or Gramscian perspective at the time when the state’s role and presence is changing and shrinking.
Yet these debates have limited empirical grounding and research documenting the role, challenges and opportunities of specific civil society initiatives is fragmented. Furthermore, academic research tends to see the realm of civil society and ‘the community’ as analytically separate from other important arenas such as the workplace. Migrant workers are a valuable vantage point to explore current transformations in civil society and its role in fostering social justice, social cohesion and a fairer society. They perform an important role in contemporary society and economy (BIS 2015) yet they are constructed as one of the key contemporary problems in current public and political discourse. Crucially, there are sectors of British society that are working, often at the grassroots level to build cohesion from the bottom-up in communities and workplaces. This series will foreground, reflect on and theorise the interface of workplace and community collective actors (e.g. between religious and labour organisations through broad-based coalitions), paying particular attention to the question of migrant workers. It will draw on interdisciplinary theoretical approaches to provide a deeper understanding of the factors that make civil society initiatives ‘work’.
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