Choice and Values: individualized rational action and social goals

Taylor-Gooby, P.F. (2008) Choice and Values: individualized rational action and social goals. Journal of Social Policy, 37 (2). pp. 167-185. ISSN 0047-2794 . (The full text of this publication is not available from this repository)

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Official URL
http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0047279407001699

Abstract

For excellent reasons, in response to pressures from social, economic and political changes, welfare states are undergoing reform. A central theme in the new policies, particularly influential in the UK, is the use of incentives through activation programmes and reforms to public sector management to promote rational responsible choices by both service users and providers. The theoretical underpinning of this approach relies on a model of people as plural in their values, but holding values that are independent from social context and institutional framework. Policy seeks to harness those values to produce desired behaviour. This article focuses on two relevant literatures. Analyses of rational action at an individual level by economic psychologists, evolutionary biologists and game theorists indicate that the context in which choices are framed influences responses. Further work by economic sociologists and social psychologists suggests that the values that guide behaviour have an important social element as normative systems embodied in institutional frameworks. The norms appropriate to market interactions typically differ from welfare norms, so that different value frameworks and responses apply. The implication is that the transition to quasi-market and individualised incentive systems risks damaging the norms that sanction support for distant but vulnerable groups. The article falls into three sections: reviewing the background to reform and the emergence of an emphasis on individualised rational choice, considering each of the literatures mentioned above and discussing policy consequences.

Item Type: Article
Projects: [14] SCARR Risk Network
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research > Social Policy
Depositing User: Peter Taylor-Gooby
Date Deposited: 05 Jun 2008 13:16
Last Modified: 14 Jan 2010 14:11
Resource URI: http://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/3197 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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