The Politics of Poverty in the European Union

Florence Larocque and Alain Noël

Florence Larocque and Alain Noël discuss their article on the politics of poverty in the European Union, published in the latest issue of Policy & Politics.

“Arguments about poverty,” note Paul Copeland and Mary Daly in a recent article, “go to the heart of political disagreement in Europe,” because they express profound differences about social policy and models of capitalism. The European commitment to fight poverty and social exclusion has thus moved over the years, from the ambitious decision to make social inclusion an explicit goal governed by the new Open Method of Coordination (OMC) with the Lisbon strategy in 2000, to a more circumscribed vision giving priority to economic growth and job creation after 2005, and to an ambiguous but nevertheless explicit quantitative target agreed upon in the summer of 2010, “to lift at least 20 million people out of the risk of poverty and social exclusion” by 2020. But changing orientations at the European level are not the only manifestation of political disagreement about poverty. Important differences are also expressed through the distinct ways member states have interpreted the common objectives. Continue reading

July 2014 issue of Policy & Politics

Policy and Politics coverThe July issue of Policy & Politics is out now. You can access the full issue here.

The latest issue of Policy & Politics is now available for download or in print. This issue has five articles that relate directly to the themes of poverty and social inclusion. Jonathan Greene’s article explores the way that poverty is ‘managed’ through an examination of homelessness in London between 1979 and 1993. Drawing on social movement theory and relating his analysis to collective action, he thinks though these findings for current homeless politics. Alain Noel and Florence Larocque discuss the issue of poverty through a similarly retrospective lens. Their analysis of data between 2001 and 2006 relates to the responses of the EU-15 and the open method of co-ordination. With some caveats, they highlight the ‘enduring power of national institutions’ in this field. Paul Copeland and Mary Daly also concentrate on the EU, and critique its target to reduce poverty and social inclusion in Europe by 20 million. Continue reading

We need to talk about poverty

Seosamh Mac Cárthaigh
Seosamh Mac Cárthaigh

Seosamh Mac Cárthaigh discusses the background to his article on ‘Need and poverty’ which is about to be published in the next issue of Policy & Politics.

How much poverty is found in a society depends on how poverty is defined and measured. In an obvious sense, the definition of poverty must come first. If we do not have a clear understanding of what it means to say that people are poor, we are unlikely to be able to devise measures which yield meaningful estimates of the number of people who can be so described.

Unhappily, the meaning of poverty is often taken for granted in scholarly research on the topic. It is not uncommon for estimates of poverty to be presented without any supporting discussion of how those estimates are to be interpreted. Where issues of interpretation are addressed, the discussion is frequently limited to a few paragraphs or even sentences. While studies usually offer some description of the measures used, they generally have little to say about why those measures were chosen in the first place or about what they are intended to capture. Continue reading

Welfare restrictions place financial pressure on new immigrant families

Anna Boucher
Anna Boucher

Anna Boucher discusses her article ‘Familialism and migrant welfare policy: Restrictions on social security provision for newly-arrived immigrants’, published in the latest issue of Policy & Politics.

Liberal welfare states like Australia and Canada are often assumed to rely centrally on market mechanisms to provide welfare. Typically, in these countries, fewer obligations are owed by adult family members to other adults family members than in conservative welfare states. However, in the area of immigrant welfare, my research reveals that immigrant sponsors are increasingly bearing the brunt of financial costs of their parents and partners. Immigration selection policies place enduring contractual obligations upon adult immigrant sponsors to support their grown relatives, sometimes for long periods of time following immigration entry. These new forms of contractual obligations not only illuminate the stringent world of immigrant welfare provision, they also extend our understanding of familialism within welfare studies. Continue reading

What difference does having a Directly Elected Mayor make?

David Sweeting

by David Sweeting, Associate Editor, Policy & Politics

Originally posted in November 2013 on the Democratic Audit blog.

Directly Elected Mayors are back in the news – Lord Adonis is pushing the idea of a ‘metro-mayor’ for ‘Greater Birmingham. In this post, David Sweeting reflects on the introduction of a Directly Elected Mayor in Bristol.

It is well over a year since the first directly elected mayor of Bristol took office. While Bristol is not the only place in the country to have such a mayor, it was the only one of ten cities that said yes to a mayor in referendums held in May 2012. Despite various inducements from central government in the form of looking favourably at city deals, and also the prospect of a mayors’ cabinet with the PM himself, Bristolians were the only citizens in the country at that time to go for the option of replacing a traditional council leader with what many see as an American style figure at the head of city government. So, as the idea of Directly Elected Mayors moves back up the agenda, it seems appropriate to ask, what difference does having an elected mayor make? Continue reading