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Porcupines in Winter: the pleasures and pains of living together in Britain today


Alessandra Buonfino and Geoff Mulgan

Publication date

01 Jan 2006


Urban riots and rural gentrification; speed dating and isolated pensioners; 'The Office' and 'Neighbours from Hell'; road rage and madrasas; grandparents providing childcare and children looking after other children; mentors and bloggers. These are just a few of the topics covered in this survey of the state of contemporary Britain. Schopenhauer once described human beings as like porcupines in winter, huddling together for warmth, then pulling apart when their quills pricked each other, and constantly striving for the right balance between being together and apart. Porcupines in Winter looks at how modern Britons are negotiating this difficult balance. It maps out the state of the relationships that matter most in our daily lives including friendship, love and marriage, our relations with our children, parents, work colleagues, neighbours and strangers, the connections we make over the Internet and our identification with the virtual communities of soap operas. The book contains portraits of places - from Grimethorpe and Shropshire to Glasgow and London's East End, and portraits of communities - including Polish migrants and Jamaican transnational families. Together these combine to paint a compelling picture of how Britain has changed and of the challenges we face in creating stronger and more mutually supportive communities. Porcupines in Winter has been published to accompany the launch of the Young Foundation which has been set up to build on 50 years of pioneering social research and action led by Michael Young.


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