Local associational life and attitudes towards local government

Jacob Aars and Dag Arne Christensen
Jacob Aars and Dag Arne Christensen

Jacob Aars and Dag Arne Christensen discuss their recent paper in Policy & Politics, which is free to download in September 2014. 

The role of voluntary associations in promoting political capacities and involvement has received a great deal of attention over the last 15-20 years. Extra-parliamentary organizations are assumed to produce a number of positive effects not only for individual members, but also for neighborhoods and local communities at large. They are thought to perform a social role, as the fabric that contributes to uniting society. In turn, associations are supposed to play a political role in fostering citizens’ capacities for taking part in collective action. Continue reading

How to lead and manage collaborative innovation

Jacob Torfing
Jacob Torfing

In advance of our forthcoming annual conference, plenary speaker Professor Jacob Torfing, Roskilde University, Denmark, gives us a preview of his presentation on ‘how to lead and manage collaborative innovation’.

The current drivers of innovation in the public sector are easy to spot. Internal pressures from budgetary constraints, policy failures and rising professional ambitions of public employees as well as external pressures from demanding citizens and stakeholders, critical publics, inquisitorial mass media and political demand for enhancing the structural or systemic competitiveness of nation states in the face of globalization have all contributed to placing innovation at the top of the public sector agenda where it is likely to stay for quite some time. Continue reading

Why is Labour demonising the poor and widening social inequalities?

Embargoed until 21st August 2014

Peter Taylor-Gooby
Peter Taylor-Gooby

In a recent announcement about cutting youth unemployment benefits, Ed Miliband taps into prevailing public opinion by insisting that those on benefits must work to acquire skills in order to deserve them. The way he speaks of those who claim benefits is completely in tune with those who demonise the poor, with sound bites such as ‘Labour… will get young people to sign up for training, not sign on for benefits’.[i]

This prevailing belief is in stark contrast to two key trends over the last few decades, argues Peter Taylor-Gooby, Professor of Social Policy at the University of Kent in a paper to be published in Policy & Politics. He explains: “The first is that about three-fifths of people below the poverty line live in households where there is at least one full-time earner. Much working-age poverty is a problem of low wages, not of unemployment and ‘spongers’. Secondly, spending in other areas of the welfare state such as health care, pensions and education has grown very much faster than the benefits directed at the poor, unemployment benefit and social housing. Spending on the poor is unimportant as a cause of current public spending problems.” Continue reading

Poverty and social policy in Europe 2020

Paul Copeland and Mary Daly
Paul Copeland and Mary Daly

Paul Copeland, Queen Mary University of London, and Mary Daly, University of Oxford offer a critical analysis of EU social policy in their article available in the latest issue of Policy & Politics.

Having written about EU social policy for over a decade, our view is that the EU currently is going nowhere in its social policies to combat poverty and social exclusion. Such policies are in themselves ambitious and also novel in an EU context – centring on the 2010 target within the EU’s Europe 2020 reform programme, the EU aims to reduce the numbers living in poverty and social exclusion by 20 million by 2020. While this broke new ground when it was agreed we remain skeptical in terms of the ability of the EU to make progress and achieve substantive positive outcomes on poverty. In our paper we construct a framework to analyse the significance of a policy area within a governance architecture, such as Europe 2020. Continue reading

Pathways of local budgetary reform in the People’s Republic of China

Xiaojun Yan and Ge Xin
Xiaojun Yan and Ge Xin

Xiaojun Yan and Ge Xin from the University of Hong Kong, discuss civic engagement in non-democratic states – the theme of their article now available on fast-track.

Democracies are built on civic participation; their governance depends upon the active engagement of citizens in the political processes that allow them to thrive. Indeed, generations of political scientists have studied the dynamic patterns of civic participation in democratic societies. Unfortunately, there is much less understanding of the process and substance of civic engagement in non-democratic states. This gap must be addressed, especially considering the rise in international influence and the endurance of the authoritarian regime in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Continue reading

Respecting our sources, protecting our discipline

Felicity Matthews
Felicity Matthews

In this guest post from one of our board members, Associate Editor Felicity Matthews discusses the importance of ethical responsibilities to our sources, and offers advice for researchers trying to navigate these tricky waters.

In May 2014, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) launched a legal challenge to secure all of the recordings that were a product of the Belfast Project, a programme of oral history conducted by Boston College in the US intended to provide an account of the Troubles. Recorded between 2001-06, the ‘Boston Tapes’ comprise a collection of interviews with over fifty paramilitaries from the IRA and Ulster Volunteer Force. Crucially, interviewees were promised lifelong anonymity; and with the safety of this promise, many interviewees were candid about their involvement in a range of illegal acts. One such act was the murder of Belfast woman Jean McConville by the IRA in 1972; and in 2011, the PSNI launched a legal bid to gain access to the relevant recordings. Continue reading

Credit Union Modernisation and the Limits of Voluntarism

Stephen Sinclair
Stephen Sinclair

Stephen Sinclair ponders how far voluntarism can be pushed in his recent paper in Policy & Politics. In this blog he discusses what prompted him to the write the paper and gives an overview of the key themes.

Like many people, I have to attend a lot of meetings and not all of them are very interesting. So when what I expected to be a rather dry and technical event turned into a heated debate it is worth further reflection. There would seem no reason to expect a seminar outlining the UK government’s proposals to reform credit unions to be particularly contentious; however this paper discusses the raw nerve that this meeting exposed. The sensitive issue at stake was the basic questions of what and who credit unions are for. Continue reading