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Durham University

School of Education

Research Projects

Publication details

Bagley, C.A. & Hillyard, S. (2014). Rural schools, social capital and the Big Society: a theoretical and empirical exposition. British Educational Research Journal 40(1): 63-67.

Author(s) from Durham


The paper commences with a theoretical exposition of the current UK government's policy commitment to the idealised notion of the Big Society and the social capital currency underpinning its formation. The paper positions this debate in relation to the rural and adopts an ethnographically-informed methodological approach to provide an in-depth look at two contrasting English rural primary schools and their relationship with their village communities. The empirical investigation seeks to explore the extent to which the potential for building social capital is evidenced in current rural school–community relations within these two locales. The findings reveal a highly differentiated countryside in which any attempt to essentialise the abilities of rural schools to generate social capital in order to build the Big Society should be avoided.

School of Education