big society

What is a great society?

Big Society is a series of domestic policy initiatives, programs, and legislation introduced in the United States in the 1960s. These Greater Society programs aim to reduce poverty levels, reduce racial injustice, reduce crime and improve the environment. Between 1964 and 1965, then-President Lyndon B. Johnson launched the Great Society Policy.

Johnson first laid out his plans for a “great society” in a speech at the University of Michigan. Johnson vowed that the series of plans would lead to “an end to poverty and racial injustice”.

While Johnson’s policies and plans target education, workforce training, health care and food security, as well as voting and civil rights, their approach is centrist.

key takeaways

  • Big Society is a series of domestic policy initiatives devised by President Lyndon Johnson.
  • Medicare, Medicaid, the Older Americans Act, and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) are all retained in 2021.
  • Education, civil rights, health care and education are four important items on Johnson’s agenda.
  • These policies established greater citizenship and voting rights, greater environmental protection, and increased aid to public schools.
  • President Johnson’s initiative was comparable to President Roosevelt’s New Deal plan.

Learn about the great society

The initiative to make up the Great Society was compared in its scope and intent to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program, which was enacted in the United States between 1933 and 1939.

The Great Society is considered one of the most extensive social reform programs in modern history. In addition, Johnson’s efforts helped establish greater citizenship and voting rights, enhanced environmental protection, and increased aid to public schools.

Legacy of a Great Society

Big Society Policy also focuses on urban renewal. After World War II, many large cities were in poor conditions, and affordable housing was difficult to find, especially for vulnerable groups. The Housing and Urban Development Act of 1965 provides cities with federal funds to invest in urban development that meets minimum housing standards. The bill provides for better home mortgage and rent subsidy programs.

Johnson’s Big Society policies led to Medicare, Medicaid, the Older Americans Act, and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965. All of this remains a government program in 2021. In addition, Johnson’s policies helped create the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts to support and fund the cultural institutions necessary for a healthy society. These programs fund and support libraries, public television and radio, museums and archives.

Big Society programs and policies inspire, educate, and lift Americans out of poverty for decades.

Types of Big Society Policies


In March 1964, Johnson introduced the Office of Economic Opportunity and the Economic Opportunity Act to Congress. Johnson wanted to address America’s vulnerable populations by creating a jobs group. He also asked state and local governments to develop job training programs.

A national work-study program provides 140,000 Americans with funding for college. Other initiatives include community action programs, government-funded programs to train volunteers to serve poor communities, loans to employers to hire the unemployed, funding for agricultural cooperatives and helping parents re-enter the workforce.

health care

When Johnson took office, many older and vulnerable Americans did not have any health insurance. When Johnson became president, Medicare and Medicaid became part of U.S. law. Medicare helps cover hospital and doctor visits for seniors; Medicaid helps pay for medical care for those who suffer from poverty and receive government assistance.


Project Head Start begins with an eight-week summer camp. It is run by the Office of Economic Opportunity and has 500,000 children aged 3 to 5 in preschool.

In 1965, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was passed, which guaranteed federal funding for education in school districts where the majority of students lived in low-income families.

Johnson also provided additional support for the arts and humanities by signing the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities Act of 1965.

environmental protection

Various environmental initiatives have established water quality standards and vehicle emission standards. Laws were also passed to protect wildlife, rivers, historic landmarks and create scenic trails.

Project Head Start, started under President Johnson’s leadership, supports children to grow in a positive learning environment through services ranging from early developmental education development to overall family health. Today, Head Start programs reach more than one million children in the United States each year.

special attention items

Johnson’s government-funded programs aimed to reduce poverty and improve society, and his initiatives raised education levels and reduced inequality among Americans. Unfortunately, some of Johnson’s efforts were overshadowed by the Vietnam War.

As the conflict raged, Johnson was forced to divert funds to promote education and help society’s disadvantaged take part in a war that has claimed the lives of more than 58,000 Americans. Despite Johnson’s efforts to improve the lives of millions of Americans, U.S. involvement in Vietnam tarnished Johnson’s reputation.

What is the definition of a large society?

The definition of the Great Society echoes a set of government policy initiatives developed by Lyndon B. JOhnson in the 1960s to improve the lives of Americans.

What are some of the plans of the Big Society?

Project Head Start, the National Endowment for the Arts, Medicare and Medicaid are all part of the Big Society initiative.

Who urged Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act as part of his vision for a great society?

Before his untimely death, President John F. Kennedy asked Congress in 1963 to enact a comprehensive civil rights bill. When Lyndon Johnson became president after Kennedy’s death, he urged Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act as part of his (and the late Kennedy’s) vision of a “great society.”

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