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About this book

What has the contemporary financial context meant for social policy, social work and the relationship between them? Examining the role of political, economic and societal forces, this lively book uses a full range of supportive features to encourage reflection on the impact of austerity on different social groups, social work and social care.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Abstract
Only 20 years after the ‘victory’ of capitalism over state socialism, marked by the collapse of the Soviet Bloc in 1989’91, an even bigger convulsion shook the affluent states of Europe, North America and Australasia. The twin crises of banking and government threatened the prosperity and stability which seemed to have settled on these societies, some of them were faced with upheavals that paralleled events in the USSR and its satellites in the early 1990s. Above all, the complacent view of the institutions of liberal democratic welfare states (suitably ‘modernised’ in recent decades) as the blueprint for future global development was dealt a mortal blow.
Bill Jordan, Mark Drakeford

Chapter 1. Capitalism in crisis: How did we get into such a mess?

Abstract
Capitalism and social policy have always been symbiotic; post-war welfare states allowed the affluent countries to experience rapid reconstruction and growth without the class conflicts of the interwar years. Since then social policy has been like a critical junior partner to capitalist interests - one which has had to put up with increasing slurs and indignities over the years since the early 1970s.
Bill Jordan, Mark Drakeford

Chapter 2. Secure flexibility? The search for work-friendly welfare

Abstract
In the history of both social policy and social work, issues of how the state seeks to support household incomes have been pivotal. Social work, first as a voluntary activity and then as a profession, came into existence as a charitable or church-sponsored activity, focused on those who, because they lacked the security of full membership of their communities or the support of family members, had insufficient means for subsistence - it was a way of giving alms in a compassionate and organised way. But it also sought to rescue respectable but unfortunate people from the stigma of the often punitive methods with which political authorities dealt with poverty, disability, widowhood, homelessness and the frailties of old age.
Bill Jordan, Mark Drakeford

Chapter 3. The public services and the social order

Abstract
One of the defining features of the Age of Austerity has been the programme of cuts in public services. As soon as the crisis began to destabilise public finances, depleted by the rescue of financial intermediaries in all the affluent countries, the knee-jerk reaction was for governments to prune expenditure on the collective infrastructure of social provision. In response, public service staff rallied in protest against redundancies, effective cuts in pay, and (in the United Kingdom as well as Greece and Ireland) raised ages for retirement and increased pensions contributions, as well as reductions in provision for citizens.
Bill Jordan, Mark Drakeford

Chapter 4. Health and social care: A loss of compassion?

Abstract
In this chapter we look more closely at the way in which the ideas examined so far can be seen working their way out in health and social care services.
Bill Jordan, Mark Drakeford

Chapter 5. Collective action, locality and community

Abstract
Social work has always been concerned with people’s relationships in groups and communities. In this sense it might be seen to be ahead of mainstream social and economic policy, which has traditionally been preoccupied with quantifiable issues - employment levels, rates of taxation and benefit provision, expenditures on education, health and social care and so on - and to have found the concepts of community and association somewhat nebulous. Social work has been in some ways better positioned to take up the challenge of a new concern for well-being (Kahneman et al., 1999; Layard, 2005) since the start of this century, because it is aware of and deals in qualitative aspects of these relationships Gordan, 2007).
Bill Jordan, Mark Drakeford

Chapter 6. Intergenerational justice and the family

Abstract
The most obvious casualties of the second phase of the crisis (2010–12) have been members of the generation just reaching adulthood, and seeking to establish their place in the economies and societies of the affluent countries. As austerity measures have been imposed, it is this generation who have paid the highest price in terms of fees, charges, reduced rights and narrowing opportunities. In particular, as jobs became scarcer and some education grants and social benefit rates were cut, their prospects of establishing themselves in incremental careers, with promotion and pension entitlements, receded, and the age at which they could expect to get a foot on the property ladder rose. Instead, they faced official pressure to take low-paid, dead-end jobs, on pain of losing their minimal incomes.
Bill Jordan, Mark Drakeford

Chapter 7. Sustainability in social work and social policy

Abstract
One aspect of intergenerational justice that was postponed from our discussion in the previous chapter was the responsibility of present generations to hand on to future ones a physical environment which can sustain at least the quality of life which we have enjoyed. But the social policies of the twentieth century were all based on the idea that current rates of economic growth could continue indefinitely. It was only when environmentalists started to draw attention to the fact that the global economy’s demand for natural resources was rapidly coming to exceed their supply (Brundtland Commission, 1987, p. 26), and the phenomenon of global warming was identified, that this assumption came under scrutiny.
Bill Jordan, Mark Drakeford

Chapter 8. Conclusion: Responses to the social crisis

Abstract
We have argued that the crisis of capitalism and democracy in 2008–12 was accompanied by a social crisis at least as profound. The obvious manifestations of this were growing inequalities (as the real incomes of the richest grew as fast as ever, while those of middle and lower earners fell); rising unemployment, especially among the young generation; and falling standards of care for older and disabled citizens. This in turn has led to a crisis in social policy and social work, many of whose assumptions have been based on projections of continual economic growth and the prospects of increasing material prosperity for each successive generation.
Bill Jordan, Mark Drakeford
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