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About this book

Social policy is a subject that helps develop our understanding of the meaning of human wellbeing, and of the systems by which wellbeing must be promoted. As a discipline, social policy has traditionally been blunted by a focus on the nation state; however, in this age of globalisation the most pressing challenges – such as climate change, ageing populations and flagging economies – serve as proof that, even at national level, social policy is now more heavily influenced by global factors than ever before.

In this important and authoritative text, Kepa Artaraz and Michael Hill provide a richly detailed contribution to our understanding of the global forces shaping social problems today. Part One discusses the different approaches to social policy and explores the process of globalisation, looking particularly at its winners and losers and the implications it has for human well-being; Part Two examines more closely the key actors in global social policy – such as the market, the state and international organisations; and Part Three provides an opportunity to explore some specific key issues of global importance, such as employment and migration, demographic change and global poverty.

Adding considerable momentum to the movement away from a reductionist, nationally focused study of the discipline, Global Social Policy opens up new and stimulating discussions and provides a fresh framework for the study of human well-being. Using policy examples from areas around the world to provide a truly international scope, it is an essential read for students studying at all levels.

Table of Contents

Preliminaries

Frontmatter

1. Approaches to Social Policy: From Social Policy, to Comparative Social Policy to Global Social Policy

Abstract
In this chapter the study of global social policy is related to issues about the identification of the study of social policy as an academic discipline. It is seen as growing out of dissatisfaction with a narrow view of the discipline, and particularly out of the development of comparative work. In the literature on global social policy there is a tension between two approaches. One of these focuses on global institutions that may make or shape social policy across the world, and the other suggests that regardless of the behaviour of those organisations the factors that shape social policy are global in character. Such tension may be noted in the book by Bob Deacon and his associates that, perhaps more than any other, has shaped the study of global social policy in the UK. That book’s title, Global Social Policy, is followed by a subtitle, International organisations and the future of welfare. However, in its introductory chapter the book argues ‘that the focus of the discipline of social policy should shift from comparative to supranational or global social policy’, in that sense stressing the shaping of the discipline rather than the focus on international organisations (Deacon, 1997, p. 13).
Kepa Artaraz, Michael Hill

2. Social Policy in the Global Age

Abstract
This chapter starts by exploring the extent to which it can be argued that we are living through a ‘globalisation process’ that is expressed in political, economic and cultural terms. Inasmuch as we are living through a process of globalisation, what challenges does this throw up, particularly in relation to the ‘winners’ and the ‘losers’ it creates? This leads on to an exploration of the agendas and different proposals being fought for globally in response to some of these challenges. One way to illustrate these challenges is to consider the process of neoliberal globalisation that has opened the world to international capital whilst maintaining regulation subdued or firmly anchored at the level of the nation state, and restricting labour’s freedom of movement. This imbalance has delivered phenomenal levels of global economic growth on the one hand, and high levels of economic instability on the other – as represented in recent financial crises – that are currently putting into question the claims of this form of neoliberal globalisation’s ‘achievements’. This issue has implications that are particularly important to social policy because of the human consequences of poor economic performance in terms of poverty, unemployment, homelessness and inequality. Is economic growth spearheaded by an era of mass consumption a proxy for well-being? Clearly not, but, in addition, a number of intractable problems are very much connected to this process, including the creation of a world of extremes that has increased wealth beyond imaginable levels but has also concentrated it increasingly in fewer hands, both within and between countries and regions in the world. This paradox of opulence and deprivation presents an urgent challenge to policy-makers because it creates extreme levels of need in economic, health and education terms for large swathes of the world’s population. How can the world’s riches be shared equitably? Is it possible to do so in the context of finite resources and the environmental implications of business-as-usual capitalist development?
Kepa Artaraz, Michael Hill

Spheres of Action in Global Social Policy

Frontmatter

3. The Market, Its Main Tenets and Its Global Guardians

Abstract
In Cloud Atlas (2004), the award-winning book by David Mitchell that seamlessly stitches together characters, plots and stories of diverse groups of people throughout the ages, one particular story – ‘An Orison of Sonmi~451’– portrays the chilling nature of a dystopian future in its full horror. In it, and through the eyes of the main character, we learn of a society divided between a race of genetically engineered slaves who carry out all the productive activities required for society, and humans (or pure bloods), who enjoy the benefits of others’ labour. Except, that is, that humans have long ceased to be the kind of citizens who enjoy rights – civil, political and social – and the responsibilities of making political decisions about the collective well-being of the society they live in. Instead, we learn that global government has been usurped by a totalitarian ‘corporation’ and that citizens’ main duty is to consume. Where dispossessed individuals (colonists) escape to the margins of society and live by their own means, producing the food they eat, mainstream society regards them as terrorists, a threat that needs to be eliminated. If the story is chilling, it is because of how prescient it might turn out to be. The contribution that the corporation can make to welfare and wellbeing is important without doubt. In the context of the type of economic globalisation discussed in Chapter 2, the corporation, alongside the global financial institutions that act as cheerleaders for the ‘free market’, has become one of the most important global policy actors. This chapter explores the way in which this policy actor is able to function in the context of market ideology, influencing well-being both positively and negatively and considering the implications of a small number of all-powerful corporations challenging the power and the legitimacy of governments and states. In addition, if the logic of capitalism driven by free-market ideology and the pursuit of profit undermines democracy, capitalism itself (by means of increasing booms and busts), and ultimately the planet by its never ending thirst for consumption-based growth, what does this imply for this economic system and its consequences for human well-being?
Kepa Artaraz, Michael Hill

4. The Power of the State and International Organisations

Abstract
We have noted how one perspective on global social policy focuses on the making of social policy worldwide, implying a need for particular attention to the global institutions that may make or shape social policy across the world. While our perspective departs from that view in various respects, seeing our subject as having a rather wider concern with the global influences on social policy, we do need to identify the key international institutions and say something about their impact. This, then, is the focus of this chapter. However, bearing in mind our concern to see social policy in broad rather than narrow terms, we need to cast our net widely, going beyond institutions that are explicit about their social policy concerns, to embrace all organisations which may have an impact upon global social policy. We see these as belonging to three categories: (1) The United Nations and its agencies, including the World Health Organisation and one organisation that originated from the post-1919 settlement: the International Labour Office. (2) Organisations set up since WWII to contribute to the management of the world economy. (3) Regional bodies that have social policy concerns within their own territories, and perhaps wider aid concerns, of which the European Union is perhaps the strongest example. In this chapter there will be separate sections for each of these three categories, followed by a section that considers some wider issues about the roles of international organisations.
Kepa Artaraz, Michael Hill

5. Global Civil Society: New Forms of Participation and Spaces for Change?

Abstract
The process of globalisation is having profound consequences for the way in which we define social problems as well as in the policy responses that need to be implemented to tackle them. Global social policy is born out of the awareness that we cannot engage with the study and practice of welfare and social policies without making reference to the processes of globalization that currently affect the world. For the purposes of social policy, this includes the way in which globalisation affects welfare and well-being, the growing awareness that these social problems require global solutions, and the governance of institutions that can contribute towards the ideals of global social policy. This chapter concentrates only on the last of these elements. In particular, it concentrates on the role (potential or realised) that global civil society (in the form of global social movements, international non-governmental organisations (INGOs), think tanks, advocacy coalitions, campaigns and so on) can play in the achievement of global social policy objectives. The chapter also makes explicit connections between the many different types of civil society actors and the two levels of governance already explored in the forms of the market and the state. This brings into relief not only the distinctions between levels of governance but also the blurred boundaries that are starting to emerge between multiple actors at the various levels. Using the case of the World Social Forum as a site for the meeting of a variety of actors who constitute an expression of the global or transnational civil society, this chapter argues that there exists a contradiction between the unifying (global) narrative inherent in global social policy and the potential contribution to this project that can be effected by the World Social Forum that has been defined as a space for multi-futures (Sen, 2006).
Kepa Artaraz, Michael Hill

Issues in Global Social Policy

Frontmatter

6. Global Poverty

Abstract
The dominant approach to the exploration of poverty in a global context has been through the prism of development economics. This chapter develops a critique of many of the assumptions that inform this discipline and suggests a number of areas for interrogation. The chapter starts with a discussion of poverty as a concept, suggesting a distinction between absolute and relative definitions of poverty and pointing to a number of poverty measurement tools. The chapter follows this with a discussion of the growth of development as an international policy arena during the 20th century, exploring a number of dominant phases that made emphasis on economic growth, the meeting of basic need or the fostering of ‘human development’. The chapter then considers the implications of some of these dominant views on poverty for the different types of policy solutions preferred by the multiple global actors operating at the various spheres of global policy discussed in Part II. In particular, this chapter critiques mainstream economic arguments in favour of growth as the answer to poverty because of their lack of regard for distribution on the one hand, and because they tend not to consider the environmental cost of economic growth on the other. With regard to this perspective, the chapter explores the rapid rise of the inequality agenda to the top of global policy-making, inspired in part by grassroots demands for a human face to capitalism.
Kepa Artaraz, Michael Hill

7. The Global Dimensions of Health

Abstract
Health is an integral and indispensable component of human well-being. It is both a resource for individuals’ everyday life and an essential condition for reducing poverty and for sustainable development, vital to individuals’ and nations’ empowerment and prosperity. However, the study of health and ill health has perhaps tended to concentrate too much on the biomedical (or clinical) and technical aspects, as well as on the national level of research and practice. This ‘methodological nationalism’ has traditionally led to research and practice focussed on the nation states’ health problems, and on the nation states’ economic, institutional and technological abilities for prevention and response, to the detriment of broader sociopolitical and economic factors and relationships that are at the heart of many of the health challenges and opportunities faced by the world today. Diseases and their causes do not respect national borders (Parker and Sommer, 2011), and health problems cannot be dealt with effectively by a nation state acting alone (Benatar and Brock, 2011). In the same sense that localised health problems have global implications, as demonstrated for instance with the recent Ebola and Zika outbreaks or with previous outbreaks of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), global factors and processes also determine both the health and ill health of individuals and groups at the local level and individuals’ and nations’ ability to respond. Therefore, a global framework of analysis helps identify both causes and solutions of current global health problems. With this purpose in mind, this chapter explores health and ill health from a global perspective. It considers some of the global determinants of health and disease and the many, overlapped and changing, global factors, actors and relationships involved in shaping the health challenges and opportunities encountered at the individual, regional, national and global levels.
Kepa Artaraz, Michael Hill

8. Demographic Change and Family Life

Abstract
This chapter takes as its starting point the global issues about demographic change, fundamental for policies about family life, employment and migration. Demographic issues are often discussed in disembodied mathematical terms when in reality they are of course issues about people and their behaviour. They are also particularly issues about women, as the bearers of children and people expected to perform diverse caring roles in many societies. The book does not include a specific chapter on issues about gender, taking the view that it is important to have a perspective that takes gender differences into account throughout the book. Attention to demographic issues and their family policy implications, however, particularly bring some crucial gender issues into sharp focus. We start here with the issues which until recently have been seen to be particularly about the causes and consequences of population growth. What, however, is important for discussions of global social policy now is that the dramatic growth of population that has dominated discussions of global demography for a long while is beginning to come to an end. This is beginning to change the debate about population growth, though the policy implications of variations in that growth across the world tend to be still on the agenda. Hence we move from a generic examination of the issues about global population growth through issues about differences in that growth to a discussion of family policies, the social policies that are on the agenda in connection with responses to population growth. These are seen, of course, in terms of their global implications, though we observe ways in which drawing a distinction between national policies and global policies is difficult.
Kepa Artaraz, Michael Hill

9. Employment and Migration

Abstract
In this chapter, the issues about employment and migration are linked. We do this because many of the central issues about the distribution of work, and particularly adequately remunerated work, have been covered both in the general analysis of the working of the international capitalist economy earlier in the book and in the discussion of poverty in Chapter 6. Therefore, a comparatively brief further attention to them is necessary here, but in a way that links them to the fact that the issues about migration have to be seen in the context of economic inequalities and particular variations in employment opportunities. So long as there are massive global inequalities, efforts by the prosperous nations to control immigration can operate as no more than temporary ‘sticking plasters’ holding back powerful pressures that are bound to grow and grow. The chapter starts with the evidence that there is substantial unemployment across the world, and that there are substantial differences between nations in the extent to which it is experienced. But it goes on to show that, in various respects, simple statistics about joblessness mask the extent of the variations between nations. And then when other issues about the rewards accruing to labour are taken into account, the inequalities already examined in the chapter on poverty stand out even more dramatically.
Kepa Artaraz, Michael Hill

10. Climate Change and the Environment

Abstract
Climate change is perhaps the quintessential global issue; there is little need to make a case for the consideration of the issue in a book about global policy issues. The case for seeing it as also a key issue for a book on global social policy, however, needs a little more explanation. The case for taking a wide view of the concerns of social policy was made in Chapter 1. The issues about climate change sit within a wider range of issues about the impact of the environment about people, and therefore about the need to see policies dealing with environmental problems as providing social benefits and alleviating social ills. In relation to environmental policy, the concept of ‘externalities’ developed by welfare economics is important, concerning the impact of any one individual’s activities on many (often unknown) others. The case of climate change is particularly complex and all-enveloping in this respect. This chapter will start with a brief account of climate change, its ubiquitous nature and the role of human activities in its causation. It has been reported that 97 per cent of climate scientists accept that ‘human-caused climate change is happening’ (AAAS Climate Science Panel, 2014, p. 3) Whilst an opinion poll is not the ideal scientific way to settle a scientific argument, that is a very high figure given that a great deal of money has been spent by the fossil fuel producers to try to produce opposing evidence. In any case, the ‘precautionary principle’ approach to risk prevention suggests that action is needed on risk of a much lower level of certainty than that. This is not a physical science text; all that will be done is to set out the state of contemporary knowledge and its implications for public policy.
Kepa Artaraz, Michael Hill

11. Social Policy and Our Common (Global) Future

Abstract
As we write these lines, thousands upon thousands of men, women and children every week are setting off from multiple points in the North African coast in rickety boats prepared to risk their lives at sea in order to reach European shores. They flee persecution, war and armed conflict in places as far apart as Syria, Somalia, Afghanistan and Northern Nigeria. They flee failed states and poverty in search of safety and livelihoods that can bring some sense of dignity and improved living conditions. The UN estimates that in the first six months of 2015 alone, more than 60,000 such migrants have made the perilous crossing and that up to 2,000 have died trying (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2015b). Our television screens show us daily scenes of desperation of growing numbers of people in impossibly filled inflatable dinghies, hoping for rescue amid the waves. Many such migrants have the right to expect refugee status and asylum under international law. All have the fundamental right to seek to improve their lives and those of their families. And yet, in spite of the harrowing nature of the circumstances that drive people away from their communities, two characteristics are obvious from the mass media reporting of the current crisis. The first is a sense of news fatigue whereby one week’s shock at the drowning of up to 850 nameless people after a boat capsized close to the Libyan shore ceases to affect our sensitivities a day after a similar tragedy is reported elsewhere. The second is the way in which the publicly conducted live policy debate focuses almost entirely on the migrants-as-problem rather than on the conditions that drive people to such acts of desperation and the part we play in fuelling them. Thus, political leaders allow themselves to consider denying humanitarian search-and-rescue operations on the Mediterranean on the premise that to do so might provide ‘encouragement’ for more to follow suit. Or suggest returning every single person rescued to their port of origin regardless of the merit of their case. Or, as the UK government has recently suggested, refuse to take part in any European-wide resettlement plan on the basis of a previously signed right to opt out of regional approaches to migration as an expression of national sovereignty.
Kepa Artaraz, Michael Hill
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