My main reason for writing this book is that in seeking to explain social policy the majority of existing volumes seem to adopt one of two approaches. They either provide a developmental or historical account of the welfare state, or they act as a sort of compendium in which one may find key ideas in education, housing, health, social security, social work and so on. It appeared to me that what was lacking was a text which explored the values and principles that stand behind social welfare. The elucidation of policy is not easy and on occasion we must inch our way blindly through the political smog. There is nothing new in the fact that sometimes governments and their opponents value the art of persuasion above the candid enunciation of truth. Down through the ages flimflam and ‘spin’ have found a ready niche in the political world. My aim here was to look beyond the everyday slanging match of party politics and give calmer scrutiny to the values and principles that underlie social policies in democratic states (Baldock et al., 1999; Colebatch, 1998; Parsons, 1995; Bulmer et al., 1989; Vincent, 1987; Hill and Bramley, 1986; George and Wilding, 1985). There are, then, three main goals: first, to investigate the values that guide state action; second, to understand the relationship between principle and policy; and, third, to suggest ways of analysing policy outcomes.
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Robert F. Drake
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