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About this book

The Principles of Social Policy provides a powerful exposition of policy making in the contemporary nation state. Social policies are shaped by prevailing political beliefs and values and they are made tangible in the form of overarching policy objectives. These may include, for example, the promotion of equality, the securing of justice or the preservation of liberty. In this text the key principles that underpin social policy in Western democracies are identified and scrutinised in clear, jargon-free language.

The aims of this ground breaking text are clearly reflected in its structure. Opening chapters explore the multi-dimensional nature of the values and principles that stand behind political thought. Following this, a discussion of concepts such as equality, justice and freedom reveals the importance of values and principles in shaping the contours of social policy. In conclusion the centrality of the influence of key principles is examined as theoretical ideas introduced earlier in the book are related to the development of policy and practice in real society. This raises questions about the future of social policy and the serious implications for welfare in a fast changing world.

This will be essential reading for students of social policy, applied social studies, politics and other courses concerned with the role of government and the provision of public services.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

Abstract
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.
Robert F. Drake

2. Principles of Social Policy

Abstract
This chapter is about the connections between values, principles and social policies. It explores the place of values within political ideologies and assesses the influence of principle over policy. We see the importance of values and principles when, beyond their immediate concrete objectives, politicians refer to some broader, and perhaps less tangible, desiderata. So, for example, the British prime minister, Tony Blair, has written:
Robert F. Drake

3. Freedom and Equality

Abstract
According to its values and beliefs, a government may either fashion policies designed to intervene in society (for example to reduce levels of inequality or provide certain kinds of services) or, alternatively, it may adopt policies to avoid interference, reduce regulation, and (within bounds set by civil and criminal law) allow people to act much as they please, irrespective of outcomes such as greater levels of inequality and differential access to opportunities and privileges (Hill, 1997a,b; Farnham and Horton, 1996). Clearly, then, the principles used to shape any particular policy will ceteris paribus determine the kinds of impact it will have. Policies may either restrict the scope of individual liberty or, alternatively, may allow people such freedom of action as to widen the inequalities between themselves and others (Colebatch, 1998).
Robert F. Drake

4. Concepts of Justice and Equality of Opportunity

Abstract
In the previous chapter I argued that in real life neither egalitarians nor libertarians press their respective causes to the absolute. By recognising the undesirability (indeed, impossibility) of either total equality or wholly unconstrained liberty, we are brought to the key questions: where lies the balance between liberty and constraint, between equality and inequality? How are we to decide what is fair? This question of justice is as appropriate to social policies as it is to other areas of governance. However, there is no agreement about the meaning of the term ‘justice’ itself. In this chapter I deal with four very different attempts at conceptualising justice: justice as utility; justice as entitlement; justice as contract; and finally a non-universal conceptualisation, ‘spheres’ of justice.
Robert F. Drake

5. Rights, Needs and Empowerment

Abstract
Three concepts — rights, needs and empowerment — stand at the heart of this chapter. The first task is to discuss the meaning of ‘rights’ and explore the relationship between rights and justice. Second, I introduce the concept of ‘need’ and consider the relationship between rights and needs. Finally, I conceive of ‘empowerment’ as a mechanism or process through which needs may be met and rights satisfied.
Robert F. Drake

6. Diversity, Difference and Change

Abstract
If societies were uniform and unchanging, if their members shared identical values, beliefs and ambitions, if they possessed a common culture and abided by universally agreed rules, then we may imagine that the formulation of policy and implementation of practice would be straightforward and unproblematic. Given such circumstances there could be little need for a book like this. In reality, however, values, principles and policies are unendingly challenged and policy outcomes discriminate between groups in a variety of ways (Mishra, 1981). Because societies, governments and political structures change over time, so too do the values, principles and policies that hold sway (Colebatch, 1998; Vincent, 1992, 1987). Nor are societies homogeneous; they are plural entities which contain sub-groups that differ from each other, culturally, socially and politically (Giddens, 1995; Waters, 1994; Seidman and Wagner, 1992; Craib, 1992). Clearly, then, for a society to continue to remain viable through time, a government must — to whatever degree — take into account the diverse values and interests of distinct caucuses within a population. This chapter is about the potential difficulties involved in policymaking for plural societies. The recognition of diversity is a first step, but then a state must set about evolving principles and policies able to accommodate socially and culturally distinct groups. Responses to diversity are important since the acknowledgement of basic differences and the degree of respect for competing values will determine the quality of citizenship.
Robert F. Drake

7. Citizenship

Abstract
In the book so far there has been a leitmotif, a sub-theme, which has run through the analysis without being overtly recognised. This theme is the constitution of citizenship. Citizenship mediates interactions between individuals and the state. Our understanding of the concept is important in shaping the contours of government and law, for the creation of social policies, and for the impacts of policy on individuals. Writers such as Phillips (1991), Young (1990) and Lister (1997) argue that universal citizenship can only be achieved where all members of a society participate equally in coming to a working definition that specifies boundaries, privileges and duties. In the first half of the chapter, therefore, I elaborate four prerequisites for citizenship: membership; participation; entitlements, and obligations. In the second half, I assess the reciprocal influence of citizenship over the formulation of social policy and, in turn, the influence of social policy on the quality of citizenship.
Robert F. Drake

8. Policy Analysis

Abstract
The purpose of this chapter is to relate the theoretical ideas discussed earlier in the book to the analysis of social policy in the real world. There are three main sections. First, I review briefly some common and well-established approaches to social policy analysis. Second, I consider in more detail a number of essential analytical elements. Third, I use a specific example (a piece of housing legislation) to illustrate the application of these elements in the elucidation of policy.
Robert F. Drake

9. Conclusions

Abstract
This book has been concerned with the values and principles that stand behind social policies in Western democracies. The definition of terms like justice, liberty and equality is not straightforward. Meanings change over time and place. The extent of a government’s political dogmatism and its understandings of these and similar values have profound consequences for the contours of the policies it creates. Equally, policy formulation takes place in the real world and many internal and external circumstances can disrupt a government’s aims and objectives. The analysis of policy from values, through implementation, to outcomes is rendered all the more complex by having to take account of any disruptive influences and events.
Robert F. Drake
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