New practices for new publics

New Practices for New Publics is an innovative series of events designed to bring together cutting edge thinking in social science with the experiences of civil society organisations, especially those in the community and voluntary sector.

Many community or voluntary organisations are facing significant challenges, not only responding to austerity, but also developing new relationships with public or private sectors and with each other. We want to use theories of social practice to explore what these organisations ‘do’ –  attending to the complexities of everyday work in fields including health, education, social care, housing and other community action. In particular we want to explore how ‘practice theory’ might offer new ways for organisations to think about their activities.

From our initial dialogue we have identified a number of ‘practices’ that provide a starting point for our thinking: caring, evaluating and peopling (volunteering and peer support). The seminar series will specifically aim to think about these and other ‘practices’ that civil society organisations use to support communities and citizens, effect social change and engage with others such as commissioners, policy makers and publics. We’re interested in fostering new exchanges between organisations or groups in different fields, and between new and older organisations, and in encouraging younger scholars to apply practice theories to new fields and cases.

We are grateful for funding from the Economic and Social Research Council.