Category Archives: Social Policy

One of Us? How Welfare States Help Shape Immigrant Integration

KEvins & van kersbergen

Anthony Kevins and  Kees van Kersbergen

The generous, “universal” welfare states of Scandinavia offer a range of perks that foreigners often have a hard time even imagining. In exchange for paying higher taxes, citizens across the income spectrum gain access to a wide array of social programmes and transfers. There’s a lot to praise. But does the generosity and broad accessibility of these welfare states reinforce the dividing line between, for example, native Danes and newcomers to Denmark?

Continue reading One of Us? How Welfare States Help Shape Immigrant Integration

How are social impact bonds created and implemented?

Lowe_Kimmitt_Wilson_Gibbon2Toby Lowe, Jonathan Kimmitt, Rob Wilson, Mike Martin* and Jane Gibbon

This blog post was originally published on the Discover Society – Policy and Politics blog on 4 December 2018.

In 2010, the UK’s Ministry of Justice established the first Social Impact Bond (SIB) – a new policy tool, designed to link the outcomes of social interventions to payments. The idea was that the financial risk of these interventions would be borne by a private investor rather than public funds. In our recent research article published in Policy & Politics, we set out to offer one of the first detailed accounts of how these mechanisms are created and implemented. Our results highlight three levels of analysis (macro, intermediate and micro) where tensions and congruencies can be found.

Continue reading How are social impact bonds created and implemented?

Do elites in a society exercise disproportionate and unacceptable levels of influence during collective decision making processes to secure undue benefits for themselves?

Waheduzzaman et al
Wahed Waheduzzaman, Sharif As-Saber and Mohotaj Binte Hamid

Countries around the world have been facing numerous challenges in promoting citizen participation in the governance process. Among them, elite capture is considered to be a significant stumbling block that undermines this process. ‘Elite capture’ is where elites in a society exercise disproportionate and unacceptable levels of influence over collective functions and manipulate decision making processes to secure undue benefits for themselves (see Wong, 2012).

Continue reading Do elites in a society exercise disproportionate and unacceptable levels of influence during collective decision making processes to secure undue benefits for themselves?

Mother tongue? Policy language, social enterprise, the UK and Australia

Chris Mason_Michael MoranChris Mason and Michael Moran

Social enterprise has emerged as an important vehicle of public sector reform globally but has received particular attention from policymakers in ‘liberal regimes’ such as the UK and Australia.

In our recent Policy & Politics article we set out to understand why two similar policy contexts – loosely-shared political cultures, institutional arrangements and importantly a common language – ended up engaging differently with a common policy idea, social enterprise.

To do so, we developed a unique policy data set constructed around social enterprise as it applied to a broad range of policy fields – from health and social care to resourcing the non-profit and voluntary sector – and policy initiatives. Continue reading Mother tongue? Policy language, social enterprise, the UK and Australia

Profiting from Pain: social impact bonds and social policy

Meghan Joy_John ShieldsMeghan Joy and John Shields

Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) are a social policy tool that claims to solve complex policy problems, such as homelessness, unemployment, and recidivism, through the scientific methods of financial modelling. Actively supported by several governments worldwide, SIBs provide a mechanism to turn the risky behaviours of vulnerable individuals into a form of profit making for private impact investors. SIB projects target population groups, such as the homeless, troubled youth, and obese, whose problems result in costly use of emergency-oriented public services such as shelters, prisons, and hospitals. In this way, SIBs are positioned as preventative, allowing future savings on costly public programs. These savings, also known as impacts, outcomes, or results are measured for their social value created (Dowling & Harvie, 2014). The SIB instrument places a current price on anticipated social value based on the assessed future risk that participants will not be reformed. Risks become a reward as investors bet on the extent to which vulnerable people will be transformed.

Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) are a new tool in the arsenal of neoliberal capitalism that might best be seen as an extension of public-private partnerships into the realm of social policy. As part of the pay-for-success movement, SIBs marketize social policy in ways that empower venture capitalists to profit from the misfortunes of others. The solution to difficult social problems has been cast with SIBs as a profiting from pain model.

The aim of our recent article in Policy & Politics entitled Austerity in the Making: Reconfiguring Social Policy through Social Impact Bonds is to identify future avenues for empirical research on SIBs to further assess how the tool reconfigures social policy and with what consequences for democracy and equity. Continue reading Profiting from Pain: social impact bonds and social policy

New Policy & Politics Virtual Issue on the Welfare State: free to download until the end of November

Sarah Brown2By Sarah Brown, Journal Manager

From a prevailing, long-standing debate in the journal on the welfare state, we bring you a collection of our best and most recent articles. To highlight just a couple: Anthony McCashin’s How much change? Pierson and the welfare state revisited provides a structural overview of the impact of globalisation on analyses of the welfare state.

Meanwhile Sharon Wright, through forensic scrutiny, exposes the gulf between the discursive constitution of the welfare subject by policy makers, and the lived experiences of those subjects in her article Conceptualising the active welfare subject: welfare reform in discourse, policy and lived experience.
All of these articles seek to critically evaluate this contentious area of policy and point towards purposeful research agendas for the future. Download them now before 30 November while they’re free to access! Continue reading New Policy & Politics Virtual Issue on the Welfare State: free to download until the end of November