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Monday, February 14, 2011

The Big Society and bankers' bonuses - an exercise in hypocritical communication.

Bankers’ bonuses and the relaunch of the Big Society are strange bedfellows, and yet this week they will both hit the media headlines. Contradictory messages from the government - and what will the electorate make of it all?

The Big Society espouses a set of values where giving, voluntary work, charity, community spirit, " we are all in it together" and social responsibility are the drivers. They are the apex of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs ie self-actualisation and fulfilment. Contrast this with the imperatives of our bankers, where financial reward for work done and risks taken are the key words. Bonuses, taking and self-interest are likely to be the word associations that come to mind. Borrowing the language of Maslow again, we are talking of self-esteem, achievement and status as the bankers’ drivers.

The Big Society was a rather metaphysical entity when it first hit the lexicon in the 2010 election. It may be a little clearer now, but the electorate will be confused as to the values of a government encouraging volunteering, localism, social entrepreneurship and giving, yet still condoning the toxic behaviour of banks.

With Egyptian politics recently, western democracies were caught between desiring stability ( aka strong government ) and supporting self-determination. They sent out confused messages, as they tried to catch up with public opinion. In our domestic context, that is what is happening with bonuses and the Big Society.

1 comment:

  1. After bankers crashed the economy in 1929, some committed suicide, after they crashed the economy in 2008, they demanded even bigger bonuses!

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