Social investment is an increasingly influential approach – both among policymakers and social policy scholars – which emphasizes the economic benefits of welfare state interventions. Improving people’s education, for example, not only ameliorates their wellbeing but also their productive potential, thereby contributing to economic growth.
Critics of this approach have argued that social investment tends to replace value-based considerations (e.g. based on notions of needs and rights) with an economic evaluation of social policy, e.g. conceiving individuals narrowly and instrumentally as “human capital”. By substituting “social” logic with cost-benefit calculations, social investment may also lead to the adoption of policies that reinforce the marginalisation of vulnerable groups. Indeed, the economic rationale suggests focusing policies on those groups that offer the highest returns on investment in terms of employment and productivity. But what about deprived groups who have no valuable “human capital” to offer? Continue reading →
I conducted a meta-review of policy diffusion studies that focus on the American states. By casting a wide net using Google Scholar and Web of Science, I identified all (to my knowledge) studies published between 1990 and 2018 that referred to “policy diffusion” and “berry and berry.” Berry and Berry are important because their 1990 study of state lotteries introduced the unified model of policy diffusion. Essentially, this model combined the internal characteristics of states with influences external to the states to explain policy adoption. Over time, scholars also recognized that the attributes of the policy innovations themselves condition how far and how quickly they spread. Continue reading →
In our second virtual issue of 2021, we focus on central-local relations and feature some of the latest research on that topic from a range of different perspectives and three quite different political systems. Against a backdrop of austerity coupled with an imminent global recession resulting from the pandemic, the politics of central-local relations and their impact on policy are, we believe, even more topical than ever. So we hope that you enjoy this short collection featuring some of our most recent scholarship on this theme. Continue reading →