N Squared

N squared - Public policy and the power of networks by Paul Ormerod

For some, the coalition government's central idea – the Big Society – is a polite way of saying 'the small state', or simply a way of trying to distract the public from dramatic spending cuts. For others – including the RSA – it is as yet an unformed but nonetheless potentially interesting idea that could place civic action and citizen empowerment centre stage in British politics.

This essay argues that to be effective, the policy framework for the 21st century must not only draw on the new insights that behavioural economics gives us, but also needs to be underpinned by an understanding between this and how networks influence our choices and how these change over time. Indeed, the impact of networks is potentially considerably greater than that of 'nudge'. This makes creating good policy harder while offering huge potential for change.

This is the third in the RSA's series of pamphlets on 21st century enlightenment. It aims to deepen understanding and generate public discussion as well as enrich the Society’s thinking about its own role in fostering local networks in the name of progress.

Download N Squared - Public policy and the power of networks pamphlet (PDF, 1.1MB)


Other RSA Pamphlets

21st century enlightenment by Matthew Taylor

The Woolwich model by Ben Rogers

Arts funding, austerity and the Big Society by John Knell and Matthew Taylor

RSA Transitions