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The spirit of co-operation

New research backs up a neglected political insight that collaboration can flourish without the state. And it underpins David Cameron’s project to build a “bigger” society

By David Willetts   March 2010

The trajectory of modern society often seems to be heading towards greater social fragmentation. This trend of atomisation, captured by the Conservative cry of “broken Britain,” may seem unstoppable. But it is not inevitable, in large part because of our human instincts for co-operation. Belief in the durability of this instinct has been called social responsibility or communitarianism. I think of it as civic conservatism, an approach given powerful voice by David Cameron’s “big society” argument: that our need for freedom and opportunity must be reconciled with the equally important human need for belonging and commitment.

This idea has deep…

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