In Defence of Welfare – why the welfare state is good for us

Elke Heins
Elke Heins

Elke Heins is a Lecturer in Social Policy, University of Edinburgh.

After the success of In Defence of Welfare: The Impacts of the Spending Review published in 2011, the UK Social Policy Association (SPA) has produced a follow-up volume in the run-up to the General Election 2015 to make the case for why we need the welfare state. Around 50 UK social policy experts give their verdict on key developments in British social policy over the past five austerity-dominated years. In one of these short contributions to In Defence of Welfare 2 I argue together with Chris Deeming that welfare and well-being are inextricably linked.

Well-being is a concept that has gained significant momentum since the global economic crisis both internationally and within the UK as the measurement efforts by diverse actors, ranging from the OECD and EU to various government and non-government bodies, to replace the one-dimensional GDP with multi-dimensional well-being indicators demonstrate. Measuring individual and societal Continue reading

Policy, politics, health and housing in the UK by Danny Dorling

Terry Robinson [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Terry Robinson [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Paul Burton introduces Danny Dorling’s paper in Policy & PoliticsPolicy, politics, health and housing in the UK.

You know you’re in for a bit of a treat when Danny Dorling begins by saying he’s written something that is not in the standard journal style; and so it turns out in his paper ‘Policy, politics, health and housing in the UK’.  His wide ranging analysis connects recent developments in UK housing policy with a variety of current and possible public health impacts and offers some thoughts on the political motivations of those responsible for these developments.  As usual he offers a fine example of engaged scholarship that avoids the piety, academic sniping and wilful opacity that characterises some work in this field.

In a nutshell, since the end of the last millennium we have seen a pronounced rise in private landlordism so that one quarter of all families with children in Britain now live in a home owned by a private landlord, mainly because of transfers of housing from the public sector and the emergence of a tax and welfare regime that underwrites many of the costs of private landlordism.  Dorling acknowledges that this policy direction Continue reading

What does the impact of financialisation on the welfare state tell us about citizenship?

Craig Berry
Craig Berry

Craig Berry discusses his article ‘Citizenship in a financialised society: financial inclusion and the state before and after the crash. Craig is Deputy Director of the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Sheffield.

All recent governments in the UK have pursued ‘financial inclusion’ at the individual level, as part of the broader agenda around ‘asset-based welfare’, that is, efforts to enable individuals to play an enhanced role in ensuring their own long term financial security through asset ownership.

Financial inclusion ostensibly refers to the ability of individuals to participate in the financial system. At the most basic level, it means access to banking services. Often, the benefits of financial inclusion have been articulated in terms of enabling and incentivising individuals to save. Invariably, however, the aim is to ensure individuals are able to access credit (the economic opposite Continue reading

Why voting cannot be a duty

Dan Degerman
Dan Degerman

by Dan Degerman, Graduate Research Scholar, Department of Political Science and International Studies, Long Island University,USA

The electoral race has reached its climax. The party war machines are running at full capacity, saturating the airwaves with political vitriol. Yet, even in this state of war, the combatants unanimously agree on one thing. As democratic citizens, each and every one of us has a duty to vote.

Most of us concur, which is unsurprising given the incessant repetition of this mantra. While few would agree with the letter of phrases, such as “Vote or Die,” many seem to agree with their spirit. That is, people who fail to vote are worthy of derision. We saw this exemplified in the public outcry against Russell Brand’s notorious statement that people shouldn’t vote. Such calls may be misguided, but the idea that people are morally obligated to vote is equally misconceived.

At its core, the purpose of voting is to legitimize the government. As Continue reading

Latest issue out now – here’s a sneak preview…

The latest issue of Policy & Politics is now available on shelves and online.

Our April issue opens with an article on The Politics of Climate Change based on the inspirational Policy & Politics Annual Lecture given by the world renowned sociologist, Lord Anthony Giddens. During the lecture, which attracted over 800 people, Lord Giddens presented a clear and pressing case for the need for urgent action to address climate change. He outlined a paradoxical trend where many will do little to address climate change until there are palpable and visible impacts – by which time it will be too late. Lord Giddens persuasively called for a renewed, digitally-enhanced global activism, to stimulate and to change attitudes to climate change risks, to promote alternative technologies, and to mobilise pressure on governments to take rapid action to reduce carbon emissions, thus saving the earth from impending catastrophe. You can also view the film of the lecture at http://www.bris.ac.uk/sps/policypolitcs/annuallecture2015/.

Bearing in mind the profile that the issue of housing has taken on in the election campaign, Danny Dorling’s is a particularly prescient article. In a typically provocative Continue reading

A reflection on “Giddens’s paradox”

Ron Johnston and Chris Deeming
Ron Johnston and Chris Deeming

by Ron Johnston and Chris Deeming

In his article The Politics of Climate Change as in the the two editions of his The Politics of Climate Change, Anthony Giddens identifies what he and others now refer to as ‘Giddens’s paradox’ – that although climate scientists are increasingly certain about the nature and intensity of anthropogenic climate change the general public is becoming less concerned that it is a crucial issue calling for immediate comprehensive, global action. He identifies four reasons for this: the well-funded campaigns against policy proposals to reduce carbon emissions, often involving disinformation, by those who would lose financially, notably companies involved in fossil fuels; the difficulties lay people have in appreciating climate science and the concepts of risk and uncertainty; the ‘free rider’ issue – why should Britain (or any country for that matter) which is only a small contributor to the global emissions total take a lead in tackling the issue; and the primacy that many countries, especially those in the developing world, place on economic development.

There is thus a global paralysis regarding climate change policy that needs to be broken. Giddens suggests that a new policy paradigm is now urgently needed, based Continue reading