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 Investing in social justice?→
Sarah Ayres, Steve Martin and Felicity Matthews, Co-editors of Policy & Politics
New virtual issue from Policy & Politics: The changing nature of welfare
While Policy & Politics has always tracked debates about the changing nature of welfare globally, our need to understand the implications of such changes is proving more crucial than ever during this global pandemic. In particular, it is clear that this pandemic will have differentiated impacts, with those who are poorer and more vulnerable more likely to be adversely affected. To help think about how these challenges can be tackled, this special collection brings together a range of insights from recent articles that consider the changing nature of welfare and what this means for welfare recipients. Continue reading Virtual issue on The changing nature of welfare→
A version of this blog was originally published on The Conversation on 31 January 2018.
Trust in politicians has fluctuated relatively little during the last 30 years in the UK. It remains stubbornly low. According to an index by the pollsters Ipsos-Mori, 18% of people said they trusted politicians in 1983, and 17% in 2017. Yet this hides some real changes that have taken place in recent years. As the rise of populist movements and decline of mainstream parties across Europe shows, the gap between politicians and citizens seems to grow ever wider. Continue reading Why British people don’t trust the government any more – and what can be done about it→
It is curious how little traction the idea of the social investment welfare state (SIWS) has had in British social policy discussion. The basic idea behind SIWS is that some forms of public social spending contribute positively to creating an innovative economy. Spending on education, skills and active labour market policy are the most obvious elements, but spending on high-quality childcare is also part of the concept. This is partly for its contribution to early-years education but also for making life reasonable for the two-parent-earner family that increasingly characterizes the most productive economies. Of course, elements of this enter British discussions, especially education, but it comes in piecemeal, whereas it gains most strength Continue reading The social investment welfare state: the missing theme in British social policy debates→