Assumptive Worlds and Images of Agency: Academic Social Policy in the Twenty-first Century?

Taylor-Gooby, Peter (2008) Assumptive Worlds and Images of Agency: Academic Social Policy in the Twenty-first Century? Social Policy and Society, 7 (3). pp. 269-280. ISSN 1474-7464. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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As many commentators have pointed out, the pressures facing modern welfare states are formidable. One response by government is to place greater emphasis on a policy-making paradigm which rests on an individual rational actor account of agency. This finds its intellectual home in the leading tradition of neo-classical economics, its ideological home in a politics of active citizenry and equality of opportunity and its institutional home in the mechanisms by which the Treasury currently directs social policy. The resulting policies have strengths in delivering productivity improvements and responsiveness to consumer demand, but weaknesses in accommodating the value positions of an increasingly diverse society, in sustaining the social cohesion necessary to the continuance of state welfare and in confronting the structural basis of some social interests. These issues have traditionally been recognised in the sociology of values, the psychology of trust and the political science of power. One strength of academic social policy is that it is a field of study in which a number of disciplines are deployed. The ascendancy of one paradigm may obscure the contribution of others. It is hard for social policy academics to gain recognition when they speak a different language from that of policy-making at the highest level. Acknowledgements: This paper benefited from discussion with Alice Lakeman, Rose Martin, Robert Page, Jan Pahl, Fiona Williams and anonymous referees.

Item Type: Article
Additional information: Presented as Keynote at Social Policy Association annual conference, 2007
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: 10 Mar 2009 16:52
Last Modified: 28 Apr 2015 12:42
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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