Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Henry Tam (biographical & bibliographical note)

Henry Tam leads the Question the Powerful political education project, which promotes awareness and application of the ideas set out in his publications, policy advice and public talks, to counter the dystopian threats of power inequalities.

His academic books and novels are concerned with exposing the dangers of allowing an elite to acquire too much power, and showing how cooperative communities can revive democracy. His widely acclaimed writings include: Communitarianism (a political treatise nominated by New York University Press for the for the 2000 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order); Kuan’s Wonderland (a political fabe described by the president of the Independent Publishers Guild as “an unmissable page-turner”); Whitehall through the Looking Glass (“an extraordinary dystopian tale about corporate greed and political collusion” - Baroness Kay Andrews, former Government Minister); and Against Power Inequalities (a global history praised by the Secretary-General of Cooperative UK as the work of “a master storyteller”). His essays appear regularly on ‘Question the Powerful’.

He is currently the Director of the University of Cambridge’s Forum for Youth Participation & Democracy. He is also Visiting Professor, Social Policy & Education, at Birkbeck, University of London; Fellow of the Globus Institute for Globalization and Sustainable Development, University of Tilburg (the Netherlands); and Chair of the Communitarian Forum, UK (1995-2000). He has been a guest speaker at many institutions, including: the University of Oxford; the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation (Harvard, USA); the Warsaw Institute of Sociology; the National School of Government; the London Business School; the BBC; Metropolitan Police Authority; Church Action on Poverty; and the South Place Ethical Society.

Between 2003 and 2010, he was the UK Government’s Head of Civil Renewal & Deputy Director for Community Empowerment, with lead responsibility on national policies for the involvement of citizens in shaping public decisions. The cross-government ‘Together We Can’ programme he developed was showcased at the 2008 international meeting of the Global Network of Government Innovators (USA). During 2010-2011 he was the UK’s Head of Race Equality. He has also been the Home Office’s Director for Community Safety & Regeneration (East of England); and Head of the Correctional Services Standards Unit. Prior to joining the senior civil service, he was the Deputy Chief Executive at St Edmundsbury Borough Council, where his work on democratic engagement won a Best Practice Award from the Prime Minister in 1999. In recognition of his success in introducing more effective engagement and communication approaches in the public sector, he was elected Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing in 1993.

He read Philosophy, Politics & Economics at the Queen’s College, University of Oxford; and obtained his PhD in Philosophy from the University of Hong Kong.

List of Key Publications

Against Power Inequalities: a history of the progressive struggle, (new edition) QTP: 2015.
• 'Communitarianism, sociology of', in International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences (Elsevier, 2015).
‘Let’s Talk About Democracy’ in nED (the network for Education & Democracy): (August 2014).
• ‘What would Whitehall be like in fifty years’ time?’ in Despatches, the Civil Service College newsletter (Vol.2 July 2014, p.2).
‘Whitehall through the Looking Glass: a novel exposé of corporate government’, published interview in Shout Out UK, 8 May, 2014).
Whitehall through the Looking Glass (a novel). QTP: 2014.
• 'Communitarianism', in the Encyclopedia of Action Research (Sage Publications, 2014).
• 'Progressive Lifelong Learning: pros and cons', NIACE Journal, 'Adult Learning', winter, 2013.
• 'Cooperative Problem-Solving & Education’, Forum journal, Volume 55 Number 2 2013.
• 'The Curious Case of Chinese Politics in Britain’, The Orient (2013).
• 'When Plato met Potter’, Book Brunch (published 18 June 2013).
• 'Cooperative Problem-Solving: what it means in theory and practice', FYPD, University of Cambridge, 2013 (download article here). Polish version, 'Demokracja: lekcje kooperatywnego rozwiazywania problemow’, published in edukacja obywatelska w dziataniu, ed. by Kordasiewicz, A. & Sadura, P., (Wydawnictwo Naukowe Scholar, Warsaw, 2013).
Kuan's Wonderland (a novel). QTP: 2012.
• ‘Citizen Engagement and the Quest for Solidarity’, in After the Third Way: The Future of Social Democracy in Europe>, ed. by Olaf Cramme and Patrick Diamond (London, I.B. Tauris, 2012).
• ‘Democratic Participation and Learning Leadership’, published in Polish as ‘Szkola liderow’ in Partycypacja: przewodnik krytyki politycznej, ed. by Sadura, P. & Erbel, J. (Wydawnictwo Krytyki Politycznej, Warsaw, 2012).
• ‘Rejuvenating Democracy: lessons from a communitarian experiment’, Forum, Volume 53, Number 3, 2011.
Komunitaryzm, (Polish translation of Communitarianism, by J Grygienc & A Szahaj), Wydawnictwo Naukowe Uniwersytetu Mikolaja Kopernika, Torun 2011.
• ‘Through Thick & Thin: what does it really take for us to live together’, in Ethnicities, ed. by Dina Kiwan, Volume 11 Issue 3 September 2011.
• ‘The Big Con: reframing the state-society debate’, PPR Journal, Volume 18, Issue 1, March-May 2011.
Against Power Inequalities: reflections on the struggle for inclusive communities, (original edition) Birkbeck, London University, 2010.
• ‘The Importance of Being a Citizen’, in Active Learning for Active Citizenship, ed. by John Annette & Marjorie Mayo, (NIACE, 2010).
• ‘Bringing up Citizens’ – review of Patrick Keeney’s Liberalism, Communitarianism & Education, in PROSPERO (Autumn issue, 2009).
Review of White, S. and Leighton, D. (ed.) Building a Citizen Society: the emerging politics of republican democracy (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 2008) in RENEWAL (Vol. 17 No.2, Summer 2009).
• ‘Citizens’ Access to Power’, in County Beacon (the County Councils Network magazine) April 2008.
• ‘Power to the Citizen’, in VINE (the Voluntary Organisations’ Network North East newsletter) Summer 2008.
• ‘Civil Renewal: the agenda for empowering citizens’, in Re-energizing Citizenship: Strategies for Civil Renewal, ed. by Gerry Stoker, Tessa Brannan, and Peter John, (Macmillan Palgrave, 2007).
• ‘The Hidden Barriers to Collaboration’ in The Collaborative State, ed. by Simon Parker and Niamh Gallagher, (London: Demos, 2007).
• ‘The Case for Progressive Solidarity’, in Identity, Ethnic Diversity & Community Cohesion, ed. by M. Wetherell, M. Lafleche & R. Berkeley, (London: Sage, 2007).
• ‘Communities in Control’, New Start (Volume 8, No. 345, 23 June 2006).
• ‘Civil Renewal & Diversity’, in Social Capital, Civil Renewal & Ethnic Diversity (Proceedings of a Runnymede Conference), 2005.
• ‘Live and Let Eat’, a review of Steven Lukes’ Liberals & Cannibals: The Implications of Diversity, in The Responsive Community, Spring/Summer 2004.
Progressive Politics in the Global Age (ed.) (Cambridge: Polity, 2001).
• ‘What is the Third Way’, review of The Third Way and The Third Way and its Critics (by Anthony Giddens), for The Responsive Community. (Summer 2001).
• ‘The Community Roots of Citizenship’, in Citizens: Towards a Citizenship Culture, ed. by B. Crick (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2001).
• Review of Schools and Community: The Communitarian Agenda in Education (by James Arthur with Richard Bailey), for the Cambridge Journal of Education. (May 2000).
• 'Rediscovering British Communitarianism', The Responsive Community, (reprinted in the Co-op Commonweal) Spring, 1999.
• 'Time to take a stand: Communitarian Ideas and Third Way Politics', International Scope Review Vol 1, Issue 1, 1999.
• ‘Communitarian Ideas and Third Way Politics', Local Government Voice, July 1999.
Communitarianism: A New Agenda for Politics & Citizenship (Macmillan, 1998).
Putting Citizens First, with John Stewart (Municipal Journal/SOLACE, 1997).
Punishment, Excuses & Moral Development (ed.) (Aldershot: Avebury Press, 1996).
• 'Communitarianism and Citizens Empowerment', Local Government Policy Making, January 1996.
• 'Communitarianism and Humanism: The Need for a Citizens' Movement', The Ethical Record, February, 1996.
• 'Education and the Communitarian Movement', Journal for Pastoral Care in Education, September 1996.
The Citizens Agenda (The White Horse Press 1995).
• 'Crime & Responsibility' in B. Almond (ed.) Introducing Applied Ethics (Blackwell's 1995).
• 'Enabling Structures' in D. Atkinson (ed.) Cities of Pride (Cassell 1995).
• 'Recognise Your Responsibilities', The Professional Manager, March 1995.
• 'The Real Communitarian Challenge', County News, May 1995.
• 'Towards a Communitarian Philosophy', Philosophy Today, May 1995.
• 'Communitarianism & the Co-operative Movement', The Co-op Commonweal, Issue 2 1995.
• 'Community Movement', Local Government Management, Autumn 1995.
• 'Take the Community Route to People Power', Local Government Chronicle (24/11/95).
Marketing, Competition & the Public Sector (ed.) (Harlow: Longman, 1994).
• 'Empowerment: Too Big a Task?' The Professional Manager, March 1994.
Citizenship Development: Towards an Organisational Model (LGMB 1994).
Serving the Public: Customer Management in Local Government (Harlow: Longman 1993).
• 'Power to the People' Local Government Management Summer 1993.
• 'How Should We Live?' The Philosopher, October 1993.
Responsibility & Personal Interactions: A Philosophical Study of the Criteria for Responsibility Ascriptions (Lampeter: Edwin Mellen Press, 1990).

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Find out more about: Communitarianism

Communitarianism: A New Agenda for Politics & Citizenship explains why and how we should pursue the development of inclusive communities. It sets out the three key communitarian principles of cooperative enquiry, mutual responsibility, and citizen participation, and applies them to policies in support of the education, employment and protection of citizens. It also examines the implications these will have for the state, business, and third sectors.

Nominated by New York University Press for the 2000 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order, Communitarianism has been widely praised by academics and policy commentators:

“Communitarianism is a topic that has achieved the rare status of stimulating both important contributions from academic political theorists and ideas for politicians. ... Henry Tam draws on both strands of work to produce a scholarly overview of the subject combined with an agenda for political practice and reform. ... The book is an excellent statement of the communitarian approach to politics and citizenship.”
- Desmond King, Professor of Politics, University of Oxford, Times Higher Education Supplement, 26 February 1999.

“Philosophically and social-scientifically literate, Tam's mind is a galaxy of bright ideas, at once general and pragmatically specific. He writes as one attuned to the pitfalls of communitarian thinking as much as to the disasters of capitalist-statist ideologies and practices. ... Those studying contemporary political philosophy will be aware of the gap between academic abstraction and such political reality as may be connected with it. What Tam's book does is supply a grasped context for such thinking to get some life and purchase. Moreover, such is Tam's erudition, that in any area the reader is put onto a reference network of progressive and creative thought.”
- Tony Skillen, University of Kent, Radical Philosophy, Issue 97, Sept-Oct 1999.

“Henry Tam brings a refreshing new perspective to the well-worn debate between communitarianism and individualism, derived from practical experience as well as moral commitment. He writes with passionate urgency, without sacrificing intellectual rigour. The result is a clarion call for a tolerant, democratic and pluralistic vision of community, as far removed from the moral authoritarianism that sometimes flies under the communitarian banner as from the hyper-individualism of free-market fundamentalism. This book should be compulsory reading for the Blair Cabinet.
- Professor David Marquand, Joint-Editor, Political Quarterly, 1998.

“Tam, an elegant and thoughtful writer, states that his aim is to bring together different strands of communitarian ideas that have been developing in Europe and America … [He] points eloquently to market-individualism’s ‘cancerous effects’ on community life … [and] argues that a sense of community has to be created.”
- Bernard Crick, Tribune, Friday, 11th September 1998.

“Henry Tam’s book is to be welcomed on several counts … He provides a readable, thoughtful and exhaustive exposition of what communitarianism actually is. … The value of this book is in putting forward genuinely innovative ideas and contributing generously to the debate on different ways of doing things in politics and administration.”
- Chris Sladen, Teaching Public Administration, (volume XVIII, No.2) Autumn 1998.

“Tam explains that an active participatory state is necessary to bring communitarianism into reality. Privatization of state functions reduces citizens to the status of consumers. He argues that a ‘sweatshop economy’ interferes with the autonomy and dignity of workers, while team approaches to workplace and firm organization support these values. … [H]e claims, civil society must grow new, more inclusive community groups, instead of merely addressing the decline of traditional community groups, which often justify subordination of certain social groups to others. … This book should help dispel important misconceptions that the Left has had of communitarianism.”
- Jan Flora, Iowa State University, Politics, Social Movements, and the State, 1999.

“Tam’s work demonstrates that communitarians can be concerned about values while recognizing the importance of equitable distribution of power … [Few communitarian writers] that I have read have been so adamant in their condemnation of market forces and their effects on communities as Tam. … [His] book also adds to the existing literature on deliberative democracy by demonstrating how the principles associated with deliberative democracy should be applied not only to intra- and inter-community deliberations, but also to relations between governmental, business, and voluntary organizations and their stakeholders. … Tam’s book is an admirable treatment of communitarian ideas and how those ideas can be implemented to address issues of common concern.”
- Professor Steven Jones, University of Charleston in West Virginia, The Responsive Community, Volume 10, Issue 2, Spring 2000.

“Tam combines, in a remarkably successful manner, a first-rate command of the philosophical issues with the experience of a communitarian practitioner. He writes with clarity and conviction. A 'must' for all who care not only about communitarianism, but about community and indeed a good society.”
- Amitai Etzioni, author of The Spirit of Community, 1998.

“Though often associated with sociologist Amitai Etzioni's assessment of contemporary market society, Tam shows that communitarianism is rooted in an older, larger set of problems in political theory: finding a means of organizing authority in liberal-democratic societies without relying on either rights-based doctrines that leave the individual alone and insecure or authoritarian methods that submerge liberty to the 'needs' of the larger polity. The text is ambitious in scope, fair-minded, and well-written.”
- Choice, January 1999.

“Henry Tam's book is a timely reminder that much of the thinking that has kept conference organisers employed recently is rooted in communitarianism. ... The great strength of Tam's book is that he not only offers a clear conceptual framework for communitarianism - grounded in the three principles of co-operative enquiry, mutual responsibility and equal participation by empowered citizens - but also a practical agenda for how theory can be translated into action in schools, workplaces and the voluntary sector. … [H]is enthusiasm for a co-operative and caring society which still guarantees diversity and personal autonomy is highly seductive. Recommended reading for those looking for something more substantial than a new Labour soundbite.”
- Iain Byrne, Citizen, Autumn 1998.

“Henry Tam has produced a stimulating and quietly sharp-edged synthesis and analysis of communitarianism. Publication at this juncture is particularly fortuitous, given a Government prepared to face up to the galloping complexity and insecurity of society.”
- Lord Phillips of Sudbury, Chairman, The Citizenship Foundation, 1998.

“Henry Tam is an outstanding exponent of communitarian ideas, grounding his work both in a deep understanding of political theory and experience in local government. His approach to communitarianism emphasizes citizen participation, co-operative enquiry and mutual responsibility, mounting an effective challenge to market individualism.”
- Professor John Stewart, School of Public Policy, University of Birmingham, 1998.

“Admirably succinct and cogent. I am sure it will enjoy wide success.”
- Professor S.A.M. Adshead, University of Canterbury, New Zealand, 1998.

“This concept [communitarianism] is explained thoroughly and thoughtfully in this book by Henry Tam. Fully referenced and tightly argued, … it goes beyond political principles to describe their application to the worlds of education, work, crime, the state, business and the ‘third sector’.”
- Adrian Barker, Local Government Management, (Issue 25) Summer 1998.

. What is Communitarianism
. Re-mapping the Ideological Battleground
. Education for Citizens
. Work for Citizens
. Protection for Citizens
. The State Sector
. The Business Sector
. The Third Sector
. Criticisms of Communitarian Ideas
. The Challenge to Build Inclusive Communities

Order from: or

Further Reading:

'Communitarians: an introduction' (2014): a guide to communitarian writers and their ideas.

'The Radical Communitarian Synthesis' (2014): a short historical account of the evolution of communitarian thought.

Communitarianism Revisited’ (2013): jointly written with Jonathan Boswell to restate our shared views on what communitarianism should mean under prevailing political conditions.

Cooperative & Communitarian: a common heritage’ (2012): a short piece on the common social and intellectual roots of the cooperative movement and communitarian critique of society.

Progressive Politics in the Global Age (Tam, H. ed.) (Cambridge: Polity, 2001): this book brings together European and American academics and policy experts to discuss the role of progressive communitarianism in guiding political development.
• "This symposium comes nearer to anything I have yet read to stating a coherent and convincing case for a progressive politics that is neither market liberal nor socialist. There is not a dud or tired contribution on board." Bernard Crick, Emeritus Professor of Politics, Birkbeck College, London University (2001).
• "Henry Tam has put together a stimulating collection of articles that seek to create a form of progressive politics skeptical of both free market utopias and all–powerful states" Derek Wall, Democratization (2003).