Critical Social Policy

Published by SAGE Publications
Online ISSN: 0261-0183
Publications
Article
The post-war expansion of many welfare states has seen 'reproduction going public', the development of social policies making reproduction a public and political concern. Though the phrase 'going public' has been applied most commonly to care work, it also describes the politi cisation of needs associated with biological reproduction. The present article is concerned with one such service, abortion, and what it can tell us about the development of the welfare state. The article focuses on a particular, 'liberal' type of the welfare state found in countries sharing the combined heritages of the British common law tradition and welfare residualism maintaining the primacy of market and family. This article explores the interplay of abortion rights, politics and services in the liberal welfare states of Australia, Britain, Canada and the United States. It considers the relationship between liberalism and gender, and the distinction between abortion as a medical entitle ment and a 'body right'. The civil right to an abortion is examined in the light of services supporting a social right to abortion services. The form these rights have taken, however, also appears to have been shaped by the ideologies and institutional forms of the broader social policy framework of the liberal welfare state.
 
Article
Peer Reviewed http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/2027.42/67869/2/10.1177_026101838800802209.pdf
 
Article
This article explores from an historical perspective the emerging debates on the similarities and differences between community care and institutional care. While institutional care has been widely condemned, community care has been welcomed as offereing greater opportunities for adults who have long term care needs. We argue, however, that it is more helpful to regard institutional and community care as a continuum, and draw on our ongoing research into the history of community care for people with learning difficulties to show hat community care has a longer history than has been widely assumed, and that some forms of community care were as much motivated by a desire to control as they were by a wish to provide care. The article ends with some consideration of the relevance of such historical studies for modern understandings of community care.
 
Article
Despite the controversy surrounding the passage of Section 9 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Act into law, the Home Office is piloting it in a number of local authorities across England and Wales, with a view to implementing it nationally. The Home Office is conducting its own evaluation of the pilot, but stake-holders remain unconvinced as to its objectivity and validity. This article analyses the implementation of Section 9 and finds that it has been a spectacular failure. Quite apart from failing to achieve its desired aim of securing the return of failed asylum seekers to their country of origin, Section 9 has brought about immeasurable suffering and misery. Attention is drawn to the human impact of the policy, and profiled are some of the families who have faced the impossible choice of destitution or deportation. On a more positive note, the article recognizes the unprecedented and overwhelming support that families have received from local people and the media.
 
Article
During March and April 2004 5,000 local authority employed nursery nurses in Scotland were involved in a national all-out strike. A two and a half year dispute over pay was transformed into a struggle to maintain national bargaining in the face of employer attempts to impose local pay deals. Drawing on interviews with striking nursery nurses, this paper seeks to explore the factors that led to the largest all-out strike in Scotland since the Miners’ Strike in the mid 1980s. It is argued that the experiences of these nursery nurses highlight particular ways in which New Labour’s welfare reforms, and its approach to pay and conditions in the public sector, are impacting on some of the most poorly paid groups of public sector workers, and in doing so suggest that this dispute has a much wider resonance beyond Scotland and beyond the nursery nurses’ fight.
 
Article
New Labour has paid considerable attention to citizenship. In this paper I explore the different ways in which citizens have been addressed and affected by New Labour policies, concentrating on four processes: activation, empowerment, responsibilization and abandonment. I argue that these different processes are not just the effect of looking at New Labour from different perspectives. Rather they need to be seen as linked in a political and governmental project that seeks to construct the unity of the nation and manage its internal diversity.
 
Article
Abuse in care relationships is an increasing concern in social policy and service provision. Attention has been drawn to the abuse of cared-for people in their own homes, the abuse of carers by family members and the abuse of people in institutional settings. Drawing on qualitative research with carers/carees from South Asian and African-Caribbean backgrounds, this paper explores a different conceptualization of abuse which moves away from an interpersonal understanding, to one that recognizes structural inequalities as a form of ‘institutional’ abuse of carers and those who receive care. This reconceptualization of abuse gives particular attention to forms of racism and discrimination in the provision of services to minoritized carers/cared-for people. It therefore makes significant contributions to discussions of caring and race equality in the health and social care fields.
 
Article
This commentary will use recent events in Cornwall to highlight the ongoing abuse of adults with learning disabilities in England. It will critically explore how two parallel policy agendas – namely, the promotion of choice and independence for adults with learning disabilities and the development of adult protection policies – have failed to connect, thus allowing abuse to continue to flourish. It will be argued that the abuse of people with learning disabilities can only be minimised by policies which reflect an understanding that choice and independence must necessarily be mediated by effective adult protection measures. Such protection needs to include not only an appropriate regulatory framework, access to justice and well-qualified staff, but also a more critical and reflective approach to the current orthodoxy which promotes choice and independence as the only acceptable goals for any person with a learning disability.
 
Article
This paper reviews the evidence on the relevance of gender to the prevalence and impacts of sexual abuse in childhood, and to the interaction between adults with a history of child sexual abuse (‘survivors’) and services. It is widely acknowledged now that child sexual abuse increases the risk of a range of problems in adult life, that a wide range of services can offer reparative experiences, and that there is also a risk of retraumatization if the dynamics of abuse are replicated. Points where gender may affect whether experiences of service provision are reparative or retraumatizing include disclosure, allocation of workers and group work. In a context in which the voluntary sector plays a significant role in provision, the potential gains and losses in the current trend for formerly single-sex specialist voluntary organizations to ‘go mixed’ are discussed. The paper suggests that the politics of recognition adds a useful frame for considering survivors’ needs and the relevance of gender to their experiences.
 
Article
This article was originally published following peer-review in Critical social policy, published by and copyright Sage Publications Ltd. The Social Exclusion Unit's Report Bridging the Gap has had a major influence on the British government's policy towards socially excluded young people. This article argues, however, that the Report contains fundamental contradictions in its analysis of non-participation in learning and the solutions proposed. Despite appearing to re-instate a concern for the social, it locates the causes of non-participation primarily within individuals and their personal deficits. Yet it denies individuality and diversity by representing the socially excluded as stereotyped categories. In a flawed move, the Report presents non-participation not just in correlation to a raft of other social problems, but as cause to their effect. Deep-seated structural inequalities are rendered invisible, as social exclusion is addressed through a strongly individualistic strategy based on personal agency. At the same time, measures to enhance individual agency, notably the new 'ConneXions' service, are formulated within a prescriptive structural framework. Structure and agency are thus reversed in current English policy approaches. While such approaches will doubtless assist some young people, there is a significant risk that they may make things worse for others.
 
Article
In this paper, we provide an analysis of the deployment of labour market and career guidance as an instrument of liberal governmental rationality, and hence as a key tool for shaping attitudes suitable for the labour market. We characterize such processes and their effects on both those in receipt of guidance and those delivering it, on the basis of a three-year study in France, Slovenia, Spain and the UK. This leads us to put forward the problematic character of the notion of ‘conduct of conduct', especially owing to the conflation implied between adaptation to governmental ends and freedom. We suggest that Max Weber's categories for depicting active adaptation in bureaucratic capitalism provide a more grounded grasp of the processes involved, and that the radical distinction he establishes between adaptation and the possibility of conduct may provide a new basis for conceptualizing resistance to liberal governmental rationality.
 
Article
Case management has become a key technology in governing the problem of unemployment in western countries such as Britain, the United States and Australia. In this paper we argue that case management represents a radical localization of governance wherein the rights and responsibilities between unemployed people and the state are articulated primarily in the relationship between the case manager and his or her client. This paper reports on a study undertaken in Australia’s Job Network system of employment services. Using a governmental analysis we show how the case management relationship is experienced by case managers and long-term unemployed people in a sample of nonprofit and for-profit Job Network agencies in two states of Australia. The research reveals the micro relations of power and authority that are invoked in the everyday politics of welfare reform. We argue that engaging in policy research at a local level of analysis acts as a necessary balance to more macro welfare state comparisons. Working within a ‘street-level’ approach illuminates how workfare policies and programmes are aligning social relations and identities with new welfare ends and means.
 
Article
Social policy writers appear to be increasingly concerned with theories of human agency and their implications for the discipline. This article considers a recent model of agency presented by Hoggett, and attempts to marry it with the social theory of Pierre Bourdieu in order to present a framework for considering the assumptions about agency made in New Labour's social policy. The framework casts doubt upon the viability of contemporary British social policy, with its model of agency based on Giddens's theory of structuration, and instead questions whether the model more predominantly found in Bourdieu's work might be more appropriate. The article also considers the role of 'context' in agency in more depth, exploring how behaviour varies according to structural and cognitive constraints, how changes in context led to the breakdown of the Keynesian consensus and the implications of this for social policy.
 
Article
Full-text of this article is not available in this e-prints service. This article was originally published [following peer-review] in Critical Social Policy, published by and copyright Sage. Anti-racist and anti-oppressive practices are considered essential components of social work education and practice. This paper charts the rise and rationale for these initiatives, detailing the social and political factors that influenced their development and incorporation into the profession. The criticism of such measures from a variety of perspectives is also discussed. Whilst this was at times vitriolic and did affect policy, the claim that it constituted a backlash is contested. Influenced by a Marxist view of the state and Foucauldian insights into both the power of discourse and controlling aspects of the ‘helping professions’, it is argued that what were considered radical measures have now become institutionalized and in the process lost their original meaning. Anti-oppressive social work, rather than being a challenge to the state has allowed the state to reposition itself once again as a benign provider of welfare, and via the anti-oppressive social worker is able to enforce new moral codes of behaviour on the recipients of welfare.
 
Article
Full-text of this article is not available in this e-prints service. This article was originally published [following peer-review] in Critical Social Policy, published by and copyright Sage Publishing. This article draws on an investigation of service responses to women of South Asian background who have attempted suicide or self-harm within northwest England to outline policy challenges for adequate provision to this population. This article highlights, in particular, the challenges for service managers arising from and documented within the study, outlining implications for improving policy, service commissioning and provision. We suggest that these omissions have resulted in the distress of South Asian women going unrecognized in the name of respect for cultural diversity, thereby sanctioning policies and practices that further the oppression of South Asian women. Four main issues emerging from the interviews are discussed: 1) the impact of the contract culture on the form and structure of service provision; 2) limitations of current partnership arrangements with South Asian communities; 3) practical and conceptual problems within models of both consultation and change; and, 4) key practical consequences of the covert ways in which the structure and interpretation of service responses work to treat `race' as more important than gender. In terms of specific implications, it is suggested that the current policy focus on addressing service inequalities via recruitment of South Asian workers warrants critical re-evaluation, while training and management development should take as central the intersections of `race', culture, class and gender as systemic issues to be worked with rather than marginal or optional considerations. It is argued that attending to the specific needs and conditions of South Asian women attempting suicide or self-harm by providing integrated culturally and gender-sensitive services highlights good practice for everyone.
 
Article
Working time is an important ingredient in the Dutch `polder model'. In particular, part-time employment has proven to be an important element on the road towards full employment. Part-time employment is also an important element in the so-called `combination model', a model that has been adopted by the Dutch government as the main guideline for policies in the field of labour and care. The point of departure of the combination model is a balanced combination of paid and unpaid care, where unpaid care work is shared equally between men and women and both work part-time for pay. The article looks at the consequences of this part-time strategy from an equal opportunities perspective. It concludes that for women the popularity of part-time work has resulted in a destandardization and individualization of working hours. The combined effects of both gender and the specific working time policy has been to create a one-and-a-half earner society. Given the half income of women, the polder model has not as yet resulted in a remedy for the socioeconomic inequality between men and women.
 
Article
The paper explores recent developments in Australian and Danish unemployment policies with a special focus on the technologies used to classify and categorize unemployed people on government benefits. Using governmentality as our theoretical framework, we consider the implications of reducing complex social problems to statistical scores and differentiated categories forms of knowledge that diminish the capacity to think about unemployment as a collective problem requiring collective solutions. What we argue is that classification systems, which are part and parcel of welfare state administration, are becoming more technocratic in the way in which they divide the population into different categories of risk. The Author(s), 2010.
 
Article
Full-text of this article is not available in this e-prints service. This article was originally published [following peer-review] in Critical Social Policy, published by and copyright Sage. This paper addresses how domestic violence services to women of African, African-Caribbean, South Asian, Jewish and Irish backgrounds are structured by assumptions about ‘culture’ which produce barriers to the delivery of domestic violence services. Phoenix’s (1987, ‘Theories of Gender and Black Families’, pp. 50-61 in G. Weiner and M. Arnot (eds) Gender Under Scrutiny. London: Hutchinson) discussion of the representation of black women is applied more generally to analyse how discourses of gender and racialization function within accounts of domestic violence service provision. Discourses of both cultural specificity and generality/commonality are shown to intersect to effectively exclude minority ethnic women from such services. Domestic violence emerges as something that can be overlooked or even excused for ‘cultural reasons’, as a homogenized absence; or alternatively as a pathologized presence, producing heightened visibility of minoritized women both within and outside their communities - since domestic violence brings them and their communities under particular scrutiny. Such configurations also inform discourses of service provision to minoritized women. Finally key implications are identified for service design, delivery and development, including the need for both culturally specific and mainstream provision around domestic violence, and the need to challenge notions of ‘cultural privacy’ and ‘race anxiety’ in work with minoritized communities.
 
Article
No. Disabled activists and feminist thinkers both lay claim to ownership of `care'. To the disabled people's movement, care is a necessity on the road to equal rights and citizenship. To women, care relationships are premised in capitalist economic and family relationships and can be both oppressive, and, conversely, sources of personal identity claims. The two perspectives are different, and conflict. Oppositional claims are sited in practical resource giving decisions, and state resources have implications for the individuals concerned. Resource relationships between the state and individuals affect both practical help given and the location of the resourced group to the wider society. I argue that these claims are fundamentally oppositional and result in oppression. The relationship, when mediated by provision of care, inevitably becomes disempowering. Care provision is a function of a welfare state, and care policy will effectively empower one or other group. This oppressive dyad can be altered by fundamental re-assessment of disabled theorization and feminist action, carried through into state provision and reflecting feminist perspectives of ethical care.
 
Article
The article provides a critique of the concept of 'capabilities', initially advanced by Amartya Sen. The concept has directly influenced the workings of both the international United Nations Development Programme and the UK's domestic Equality and Human Rights Commission. It is argued that it is essentially a liberal-individualist concept. Despite its attractions - which the article acknowledges - the 'capability approach' obscures or neglects three key realities: the constitutive nature of human interdependency; the problematic nature of the public realm; and the exploitative nature of capitalism. The article argues for an emancipatory politics of needs interpretation that would be better served by a discourse of rights than a discourse of capabilities.
 
Article
This article draws on original case study research to develop more general conclusions about policy-making processes under New Labour. I discuss the Local Improvement Finance Trust (LIFT) as an exemplar of new trends in contemporary capitalist welfare regimes, and I compare some of the enterprise rhetoric surrounding and justifying LIFT to the experiences of National Health Service managers and clinicians in my case study. I consider why many of the voices that I studied appear to remain unheard outside private interviews and meetings, and conclude that changes in the public sector are helping to create closed networks that are unresponsive to concerns expressed ‘on the ground’. Finally, I consider some implications of my data for the future of neo-liberal welfare policies. Published (author's copy) Peer Reviewed
 
Sample numbers by region
Professional affiliation by region
Article
Telecare is advocated as a means of effectively and economically delivering health and social care services in people's homes, using technology that can monitor activities and safety, provide virtual home visiting, activate reminder systems, increase home security and convey information. Significant planned investment by central government will be rewarded if telecare results in fewer older people requiring institutional care, and more remaining independent in their own homes longer than would otherwise be the case. This paper, which reports on focus group work with older people, carets and professional stakeholders, considers key issues rarely addressed in provider-led studies. Emerging social policy implications centre on the potential impact of telecare on service users' autonomy and privacy and, controversially, as a replacement for human support. We argue that the development of relevant policy and practice in respect of telecare has to pay close and careful attention to concerns held by all stakeholders, particularly in regard to individual choice, surveillance, risk-taking and quality of service.
 
Article
This paper reflects on one example of knddowledge transfer conducted by the ESRC Identities and Social Action Programme which involved briefing Tony Blair for his December 2006 speech on multiculturalism and extremism. Two key themes in the report prepared for Blair and his speech-writer are described — the nature of contemporary complex multicultures and the `fragility' of white English identities. These are contrasted with themes in Blair's speech which, in general, celebrated (white) British national character and took a traditional `divided communities' perspective on UK multiculturalism while introducing further measures to encourage `integration'. The paper describes the dilemmas and challenges faced in formulating a report for this context, in particular issues about developing a narrative in a highly contested field, complicity with power and credentials to speak. It argues, too, that although ostensibly an exceptional opportunity, more mundane acts of knowledge transfer might be more effective.
 
Policy conceptualisations of health inequalities in the three countries
Article
Since the advent of political devolution in the UK, it has been widely reported that markedly different health policies have emerged. However, most of these analyses are based on a comparison of health care policies and, as such, only tell part of a complex and evolving story. This paper considers official responses to a shared public health policy aim, the reduction of health inequalities, through an examination of national policy statements produced in England, Scotland and Wales respectively since 1997. The analysis suggests that the relatively consistent manner in which the 'policy problem' of health inequalities has been framed combined with the dominance of a medical model of health have constrained policy responses. Our findings differ from existing analyses, raising some important questions about the actuality of, and scope for, policy divergence since devolution.
 
Article
British policy makers justify their concern about youthful pregnancy and childbearing by comparing relatively high British teenage pregnancy rates with lower rates in other European countries. These comparisons are a feature of 'technical/educational' explanations for youthful childbearing (explanations that depict adolescent pregnancy as a consequence of a lack of sex education and poor use of contraception). Such comparisons are inappropriate for a number of reasons. They fail to take account of the variation in adolescent reproductive behaviour and outcomes in the rest of Europe (such as variation in pregnancy rates and differential use of abortion). They also attribute low rates of teenage pregnancy to sexual openness and sex education, yet the evidence for this is mixed. In addition, such comparisons assume that Britain can learn from the experience of other European nations, despite evidence that Britain is unique, in some respects, within Europe. Policy makers must recognize the multiple reasons for early childbearing.
 
Article
As subjects of the parental right to choose (DES, 1988), parents are called upon to fulfill certain duties and responsibilities when choosing a secondary school for their child, with the expectation that they might navigate the school system ‘successfully’ and become ‘better informed consumers’ (DCSF, 2008). To comply with these rules of citizenship parents are encouraged to make use of a variety of information on schools as part of a realistic and informed choice, one that is consummate with their role as consumer-spectator. Such ‘cognitive mapping’ is evident in school brochures and websites where choice is assembled on the basis of visual iconography and narrative terrains. This leads to a consideration of how choice is visually mediated and communicated through the circulation of symbols and the structure of narratives. To explain these phenomena, I analyze and compare the ways in which two all-girls faith secondary schools attempt to (further) define themselves, culturally, historically and pedagogically, in a crowded field of choice. I conclude the paper with a discussion of the benefits and insights generated through a visually orientated approach to the study of school choice.
 
Article
This paper explores the ways in which social policy is being used to recreate and reproduce a sense of nation and national identity in devolved Scotland and Wales. It argues that devolution has important consequences for our sense of Britishness and of Scottishness and Welshness, not least in relation to the ways in which social policies are presented and legitimated. It is further argued that across the UK there is a marked attempt by New Labour to forge a new sense of nation organized around neo-liberal and market-oriented themes. This is critically mediated within the welfare regimes of these nations in accord with reconstructed ‘ways of life’ that are centred on the themes of work and enterprise.
 
Article
The capabilities approach (CA) most closely associated with the thinner and thicker versions of Sen and Nussbaum has the potential to provide a paradigm shift for critical social policy, encompassing but also transcending some of the limitations associated with the Marshallian social citizenship approach. The article argues, however, that it cannot simply be imported from the majority world, rather there is a need to bear in mind the critical literature that developed around it. This is generally discussed and then critically applied to case studies of CA in the developed capitalist world, particularly the Equalities Review conducted for the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
 
Article
This article outlines how the twin crises of capitalist globalization — of class polarization and ecological unsustainability — combine to produce the need for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to attempt to bridge the gap between the rhetoric and reality of corporate conduct. The first section outlines how CSR relates to capitalist globalization and how it is integrated into the activities of the Transnational Capitalist Class (TCC). The role of CSR in relation to social policy is examined next leading on to an account of the uses to which CSR is put in policy discourse, particularly its strategic use in lobbying and the advance of corporate power.
 
Article
This commentary deals with recent, rapid developments in the field of private residential care of older people. It traces changes in the pattern of ownership and regulation, and explores the extent to which these impact upon the protection of the public interest. It concludes that the nature of ownership continues to matter in social welfare, and that regulation has proved of limited effectiveness in securing the interests of older people in private care.
 
Article
In his book The Third Way Anthony Giddens develops the outlines of a new normative framework for New Labour and sketches ensuing policy proposals. Based on his diagnosis of current socio-political problems, Giddens proposes a new relation between rights and obligations and elaborates on this for issues of welfare and family politics. This article critically investigates his normative framework, and argues that a considerable part of the ideas on a third way in politics could be better grounded and refined by taking care into account. It spells out what the consequences would be of taking the ethic of care as a normative guideline for the new programmatic ideas and compares the British discussion with recent policy proposals in the Netherlands. It is argued that care should be seen as a democratic practice, and that democratic citizenship supposes that everybody would be guaranteed equal access to the giving and receiving of care.
 
Article
The government has launched a sustained attack upon the concept of society, championing the individual. However, in certain arenas they are now providing contradictory messages. For example, health service restructuring is calling for greater citizen involvement, appealing to a simplistic mixture of individualistic and communitarian identities. Located within that arena, this article explores the discourses of 'everyday citizens'. It is demonstrated that there is a greater diversity of citizen and community identities than is recognized in government rhetoric, and it is suggested that this diversity needs to be addressed if citizenship and community are to be useful tools upon which to base policy.
 
Seats by party in Scottish elections 1999-2007
Percentage votes in Scottish elections 1999-2007 (regional vote)
Article
In May 2007 the Scottish National Party emerged as the largest single party in the Scottish Parliament and with contingent support from the Greens it now forms a minority Scottish government. This paper considers the ways in which social policy making is being approached by the SNP and the extent to which this represents divergence from the policies of the previous New Labour—Liberal Democrat administration. The paper argues that while the SNP has no tradition of policy making in the field of social welfare there are already some signs emerging of the direction it is likely to follow. Tensions between economic development and social justice agendas are highlighted with a concern that social justice could take even more of a second place than it has in the recent past. Finally it is argued that a neo-liberal vision of Scotland informs current as well as past policy making and explains why the promotion of social justice is more than likely to take second place to the pursuit of economic growth, reflected in the SNP's goal of transforming Scotland as a `Celtic Lion' economy.
 
Article
This article has been published in the journal, Critical Social Policy [© Sage]. The definitive version is available at: DOI: 10.1177/0261018306062588 The paper’s starting point is an analysis of New Labour’s agenda for children in an emergent 'social investment state'. It provides an overview of policies for children, which simultaneously are investing in children and regulating children and their parents/mothers. Although children have moved to the heart of social policy, there is some disquiet about the way they are being positioned in this brave new world of social investment. This disquiet focuses in particular on: the construction of children as ‘becomings’ rather than ‘beings’; the paid work-focused and future-oriented model of citizenship; the relative neglect of groups of children who are not seen to represent such a good investment; and the eclipse of parents’, and in particular, mothers’ welfare. The final section sketches out how the social investment approach might be modified in the interests of children’s well-being and flourishing and with reference to principles of (gendered) social justice.
 
Article
Information technology plays a pivotal role in New Labour’s modernization programme. Here we report findings from a 2 year ethnographic study of the impact and origin of one such system, the Integrated Children’s System, which has been deployed in statutory children’s social care. We show how the ICS, by attempting to micro-manage work through a rigid performance management regime, and a centrally prescribed practice model, has disrupted the professional task, engendering a range of unsafe practices and provoking a gathering storm of user resistance. We attribute these paradoxical outcomes to inherent flaws in the design of ICS, which derive from the history of its development and its embodiment of an audit-driven, inspectorial ideology. We conclude with some suggestions for user-centred design and policymaking, which have relevance not only for children’s social care but for the public services in general.
 
Article
This article provides an understanding of childhood welfare from a radical perspective, showing how power within the special education system affects the discourse of ‘choice’ for parents. The analysis unmasks the disciplinary power operating within the special education system and explores the manner in which such power affects choice for parents. In turn, the analysis suggests that although disciplinary power offers little sites for resistance, the actions of some parents in the exercise of choice are seen as a growing challenge to that power. It remains to be seen just how resistant the system will become in the face of such opposition.
 
Article
Class has become the social condition that dare not it speak its name in the devolved Scotland. This is despite the persistence of marked class divisions and structured inequalities within contemporary Scottish society. We critically examine the most empirically sophisticated and coherent analysis of social class in Scotland – that provided by ‘the Edinburgh school’ of social scientists, particularly their claim that Scotland is now a prosperous, ‘professional society’ where only a small but significant minority are trapped in poverty. This paper further considers the extent to which ‘devolution’, and the dominant representations to which it has given rise, serve to generate a series of other myths in which class is both devalued but simultaneously mobilized in the negative portrayal of some of the most disadvantaged sections of the working class. Against an emerging, home-grown view of ‘New Scotland’ as a prosperous ‘Smart, Successful Scotland’, poverty and wealth inequalities continue to be a necessary feature of the division of labour. In Scotland, as elsewhere, class remains the pivot-point around which much of social policy is encoded and enacted.
 
Article
This article explores the burgeoning literature on modes and layers of governance and applies it to the complex of contemporary youth justice reform. Globalized neo-liberal processes of responsibilization and risk management coupled with traditional neo-conservative authoritarian strategies have dominated the political landscape. However, they also have to work alongside or within ‘new’ conceptions of social inclusion, partnership, restoration and moralization. These apparently contradictory strategies open up the possibility of multiple localized translations rather than an often assumed dominance of a uniform ‘culture of control’. The ensuing hybridity also suggests that any coherence within contemporary youth justice relies on continual negotiations between opposing, yet overlapping, discursive practices.
 
Article
Full-text of this article is not available in this e-prints service. This article was originally published [following peer-review] in Critical Social Policy, published by and copyright Sage. ‘Community cohesion’ is widely regarded as the ‘new’ framework governing race relations policy in the UK. It emerged in government discourse following the civil disturbances that occurred in several northern UK towns in 2001, and has rapidly become absorbed within local government and related organizations to replace previous attempts of multiculturalism. This paper examines several key characteristics of this agenda. In particular, I explore ‘slippages’ in language within and around discourses of ‘community cohesion’. I demonstrate how ‘community’ is central to the community cohesion agenda, and suggest that whilst the concept of ‘community’ is highly ambiguous, it has continuing resonance in New Labour policymaking. The concept of ‘community’ has particular implications for processes of race and gender. Talking about ‘communities’ enables for language to become deracialized, whilst at the same time the language of community cohesion draws upon earlier discourses of assimilation through notions of ‘integration’. The community cohesion agenda is also gendered, and as suggested in this paper, has specific implications for women and the construction of ‘cultures’.
 
Article
Following its review of the Sexual Offences Act (2003), the Home Office undertook a review of legislation on sex work. Policy will be shaped by responses to the consultation document, Paying the Price: a Consultation Paper on Prostitution. How the consultation conceives problems of sex work is therefore crucially important. Sex work service providers and rights campaigners are concerned that the consultation turns attention away from health issues and focuses instead on legislation to penalize both sex workers and their clients. Further, Paying the Price seeks solutions for sex work at the individual rather than structural level. Sex workers might be recommended to ‘exiting programmes’ and individual pimps and traffickers prosecuted, but there is no attempt to prevent sex worker abuse through human rights and employment laws. This article identifies the problems associated with a perspective that prioritizes punitive responses over public health strategies on sex work.
 
Article
The Labour government's stated commitment to shifting the balance of power to communities, citizens and users has been expressed in numerous initiatives to promote participatory governance in the local state. In this context achieving reliable ways of learning about participants' views becomes critical. A prime concern then becomes what constitutes `community knowledge' and how that knowledge can be developed. This article considers some issues that arise for communities and policy makers in reshaping local services through community involvement in governance. It draws out some implications of theoretical understandings of community, social capital and participation for the practice of community involvement and raises questions about the nature, and the potential, of community knowledge to exercise influence.
 
Article
Some UK academics have declared that they do not want higher education to become part of the social welfare system. In this article we review aspects of policy and practice that suggest that this has already happened. Explicit encouragement of people with mental health problems to undertake courses has proceeded alongside a number of initiatives to make higher education institutions better able to support students in difficulty, and new responsibilities are being unfolded for the staff. There is growing evidence that students' mental health problems are increasing. To make sense of the transformations in the topography of policy and in the consciousness it encourages, we make use of theoretical frameworks such as Bourdieu's notion of field and the generative work of Foucault and Rose, to examine the implications this has for the conceptualization of politics under New Labour and the implications this has for a newly recapitalized notion of responsible individuals.
 
Article
`Personalized learning' has become a popular term within education policy and practice in England, and is part of wider moves towards the `personalization' of public services and the promotion of personal responsibility within social policy discourse — including education, welfare, health and adult social care. In analysing personalization in education policy as a discursive formation, this paper visits some of the tensions, ambiguities and apparently `uncommon' trajectories in contemporary education policy, including its association with the `de-schooling' movement. It is argued that personalization cannot be understood simply as the most recent incarnation of the neoliberalization of education policy, nor as a politically neutral set of learning practices. In conclusion, unpacking personalization as a generative discourse enables us to understand the continuities and contradictions in New Labour social policy without relying on the sometimes heroic, revelatory and emancipatory intentions of critical analysis. ESRC
 
Article
This paper questions the extent to which a distinctively Scottish social welfare policy has emerged post-Devolution. Exploring the myths that continue to pervade the discussion and analysis of Scottish society today, it is argued that the scope for policy departure is limited in a number of different ways. While acknowledging that there are important institutional and implementation differences that can and do affect the delivery of welfare in Scotland and England, nonetheless the paper argues that there is a need to acknowledge the similarities between New Labour policy in London and in Edinburgh, to go beyond narrow institutional-centred approaches and to explore both the social relations that underpin and shape the delivery of social policy and the mounting contradictions that are at the heart of the New Labour project.
 
Article
Devolution appears to challenge the traditional regional and national hierarchies of the UK, but in practice the dominance of the South East of England has been maintained through active state intervention. As social welfare has increasingly been redefined through economic success and access to the labour market, the focus of social policy has shifted accordingly. In this context the South East has been re-imagined not as a symbol of inequality and a potential source of redistribution, but rather as driver of economic prosperity and ‘national’ (UK) well-being.
 
Article
Devolution in a Welsh context has transferred social policy responsibilities to the National Assembly. Health has a dominant presence amongst these responsibilities, both in terms of budget commitment and political salience. This paper explores the context in which Assembly health policy making has taken place, looking at economic, administrative and political dimensions, identifying elements of continuity and change in the Assembly Government's approach to health matters. The paper argues that while policy making has been far-reaching, the implementation of that policy agenda has proved problematic. It concludes that both social policy academics and politicians have underestimated the ways in which barriers to reform can be mobilized, including the way in which health policy debates are presented in the media, even when radicalism has been established in policy intent.
 
Article
The re-establishment of a Scottish parliament in Edinburgh in May 1999 has promised new and innovative developments in social policy. Focusing on poverty and social exclusion, this article considers the likelihood that the approach by the new Scottish parliament will represent a departure from the approach of the Westminster government. There is some expectation that Scotland's experience will be different given the distinctive political and cultural environment, but instead it is argued that the Scottish parliament is very much in tune with New Labour thinking in relation to poverty. The neglect of wider structural inequalities in wealth and income means that the Scottish parliament is unlikely to develop a radical approach which challenges existing structures of inequality.
 
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Using an innovative analysis, this article concocts an imagined ‘dialogue’ between hospice staff and minoritized service users. It mixes together narrative extracts about food from separate qualitative interviews, enabling staff and service users to ‘talk’ to each other against a context of the multicultural provision of food within an English hospice. The dialogue is put to work through an analysis that explores the connections, exchange and contradictions between speakers. This analysis also theorizes the implications of the dialogue for the implementation and effectiveness of multicultural policies, procedures and practices, while also examining its relation to varied, embodied and racialized power relations at times of ill-health.
 
Top-cited authors
Ruth Lister
  • Loughborough University
Peter Beresford
  • University of East Anglia
Rosalind Edwards
  • University of Southampton
Fiona Williams
  • University of Leeds
Greg Marston
  • The University of Queensland