Understanding Social Policy / Edition 8

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The eighth edition of this successful textbook provides a student-friendly assessment of the key substantive areas of social policy and the context and processes which surround their development.

  • Written to engage students across the health and social sciences as well as those studying social policy as a main subject
  • Features a greater emphasis on key principles, themes, and issues, an overview of recent policy changes, broader coverage of the historical and global context, and new chapters on social care for adults and on education and children
  • Uses case studies and other text box material to illustrate the contents of each chapter
  • Provides an accessible introduction to key areas of policy while inviting readers to consider these in historical, social, and comparative context
  • Investigates current constitutional changes and their potential impact upon social policy
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The revisions made to the new edition do more than merely update the text, instead adding a significant new dimension to it. They ensure that the book speaks to the latest intellectual developments as well as the latest policy developments, refreshing its scope and outlook as well as its empirical content. In short, they have strengthened still further an excellent text." John Hudson, University of York
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781405181761
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 2/10/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 8
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 6.70 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Hill is Emeritus Professor of Social Policy at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne and Visiting Professor at Queen Mary College, University of London and the University of Brighton. He is the author of numerous books on Social Policy and the study of policy processes.

Zoë Irving is lecturer in Comparative Social Policy at the University of Sheffield. She is co-editor of Policy Reconsidered, Meanings Politics and Practices (2007) and has published in the areas of gender and employment and learning and teaching Social Policy.

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Table of Contents

List of Tables.

Preface to the Eighth Edition.

1. Studying Social Policy.


The Individual and Society.

Rights and Obligations.

Social Policy: Magpie, Jelly-baby or Side-salad?.

The Contents of this Book.

Suggestions for Further Reading.

2. The Shaping of Contemporary Social Policy.


Poverty and the State before the Welfare State.

The Emergence of a ‘Welfare State’ in the Early Twentieth Century.

Beveridge’s ‘Five Giants’.

The Welfare State after Beveridge.

Suggestions for Further Reading.

3. The Making of Social Policy.


The Representative Government Model.

The Central Government System.


Local Government.

The United Kingdom in Europe.

The Global Context.

The Voice of the People?.

Influences on Policy Making.

Ministerial Power: the Role of Officials and the Influence of Outside Groups and Policy Communities.

Suggestions for Further Reading.

4. Implementation.


Structures for Policy Implementation: Under Central Government.

Structures for Policy Implementation: Under Local Government.

Analysing Policy Implementation.

Issues about the Implications of the Way Policy is Formed.

Issues about ‘Layers’ in the Policy Transfer Process.

Factors Affecting the Responses of Implementation Agencies.

Horizontal Interorganizational Relationships.

The Social, Political and Economic Environment.


Suggestions for Further Reading.

5. Social Security.


The Distinctive Characteristics of the UK System of Social Security.

Contributory Benefits.

Benefits that the State Requires the Employer to Provide.

Non-contributory, Non-means-tested, Contingent Benefits.

Means-tested Benefits.

Tax Credits.

Statistics on the Benefit System.

Pension Reform.

Problems with Means-testing.

Social Security Assumptions about Family Life and Women’s Roles.

Social Security Benefit Levels and Poverty.


Suggestions for Further Reading.

6. Employment Policy.


Alternative Approaches to Employment Policy.

The Evolution of the UK Approach to Employment Policy.

The Impact upon the UK of European Union Membership.

The Main Employment Policy Measures.


Encouraging/Enforcing Labour Market Participation.

Reducing Unemployment or Stimulating Employment?.

Government Regulation of Work Conditions and Job Security.

Employment and Social Policy: a European Future?.


Suggestions for Further Reading.

7. Health Policy.


The Organization and Management of the National Health Service.

Patient Access to Health Services.

Management and Professional Accountability.

The Financing of the National Health Service.

Need and the Rationing of the Health Service.

Equality of Treatment: the Impact of the Private Sector.

Equality of Treatment: Inequalities in Health and Medical Treatment.

Health Policy or Illness Policy?.

The Representation and Protection of the Public.


Suggestions for Further Reading.

8. Social Care for Adults.


An Overview of Social Care Services.

Residential Care: a More Detailed Examination.

Care Outside Residential Homes.

Direct Payments and Personal Budgets.

The Relationship Between Personal Social Care and the Health Service.

Needs and Priorities.


Suggestions for Further Reading.

9. Education and Children.


The Organization and Management of the State School System.

Higher and Further Education.

Child Care.

Child Protection.

Control over the Education System.

The Government and the Curriculum.

Diversity and Selectivity in the Education System.

Education and the Disadvantaged.

Education and Minority Ethnic Groups.

Special Education and Other Welfare Measures.


Suggestions for Further Reading.

10. Housing.


How the Housing System Acquired its Present Shape.

The Social Housing Sector.


The Private Rented Sector.


Social Exclusion and Residualization.


Suggestions for Further Reading.

11. The UK in the Wider World.


Policy Learning.

Explaining the Shape of Developed Welfare States.

Gender, Diversity and Culture in Comparative Theory.

Comparing Social Policies.

Social Policy from Above and Below.

Conclusion: the UK in Comparative Context.

Suggestions for Further Reading.

12. Social Policy and Social Change.


Changes in the Family.

Changes in Working Life.

Changes in the UK Population.


Suggestions for Further Reading.



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