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Anna Blackman

PhD Student & Research Assistant

PhD Student & Research Assistant in the Department of Theology and Religion



Catholic Social Thought and the Power of Civil Society

My doctoral research focuses on Catholic Social Thought and how it can contribute to a dissemination of power throughout society, which a specific focus on strengthening Civil Society in order to best serve the human person and common good. To do this I am focusing on readings of the principle of subsidiarity and aim to articulate a constructive Catholic theology of subsidiarity that is appropriate to contemporary politics. Subsidiarity has witnessed a current resurfacing in Western liberal politics, recently seen, for example, through its adoption by David Cameron in the notion of the ‘Big Society’. However, by translating the principle into liberal politics, subsidiarity has been divorced from its wider context of Catholic Social Thought which has greatly distorted its interpretation. Due to the different concepts of the political subject held by the Church’s teaching and Liberal ideology I will explore the viability of the principle in current political practice. I question whether subsidiarity’s removal from context results in a danger for the State to prioritize its own interests and those of the economy above those of individual citizens limiting their scope for personal development, relating to wider questions on the relationship between religion and Liberalism. Church teaching provides a holistic reading of the human person as fundamentally social and responsible, as opposed to an individualistic liberal reading, and therefore emphasises the need for the person to engage in genuine participation for true fulfilment. Due to the expansion of the State and Market, which has limited the role of Civil Society, my research aims to analyse ways in which the political subject can genuinely participate through Civil Society, focusing on the contemporary British political context, and using specific case studies to do so.

Research Interests:
  • Catholic Social Thought
  • Political Theology
  • Ressourcement
  • Social Justice