“Every one of us is involved in some way in civil society. Whether it’s a parent-teacher group or your local Mosque, a trade union or a chess club, giving to charity or helping out your neighbours once in a while; all of us have parts of our lives which aren’t about either the marketplace or the state.” 

Julia Unwin, Chair of Civil Society Futures

What is civil society?

Civil Society Futures is a national inquiry into the role of civil society in England in a complex, changing world. Civil society is all of us. When we act not for profit nor because the law requires us to, but out of love or anger or creativity, or principle, we are civil society. When we bring together our friends or colleagues or neighbours to have fun or to defend our rights or to look after each other, we are civil society. Whether we organise through informal friendship networks, Facebook groups, community events and protests; or formal committees, charities, faiths and trade unions, whether we block runways or co-ordinate coffee mornings, sweat round charity runs or make music for fun; when we organise ourselves outside the market and the state, we are all civil society.

What are we doing?

The Inquiry is guided by an independent panel of people, bringing a unique set of skills and perspectives to this journey. The team powered by a collaborative team of individuals, bringing skills from four unique organisations, led by Louise,Jame and Corina from Forum for the Future, working closely with people from Goldsmiths University, openDemocracy and Citizens’ UK. Civil Society Futures creates a space for a much needed conversation among those involved in all forms of civic action. Through community events, academic research and online debate, we are investigating how to maximise the positive effects of civic action and provide a guide to how to release its potential to drive positive change. Find out more information about what have we heard?,  how have we done it? and where have we been? on the Civil Society Futures Website.

Take part

Whether by kick-starting change in your own world, sharing your story or examples you’ve seen out there, there are many ways you can get involved with Civil Society Futures.

Find out more

We've engaged more than 3,000 people in debate about civil society and their hopes for its future through hundreds of workshops, meetings, events, blogs and academic research — what have they said? Check out these reports:

The Story of Our Times: shifting power, bridging divides, transforming society

Civil Society in England: Its current state and future opportunity

Let’s Talk About Race: Civil society and race equality


Final Reports