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This article reflects on the process and outcomes of modernisation in adult social care in England and Wales, drawing particularly on the recently completed Modernising Adult Social Care (MASC) research programme commissioned by the Department of Health. We begin by exploring the contested status of ‘modernisation’ as a descriptor of reform. We then outline some of the distinctive features of adult social care services and suggest that these features introduce dynamics likely to shape both the experiences and outcomes of policy ambitions for modernisation. We then reflect on the evidence emerging from the MASC studies and develop a model for illuminating some of the dynamics of welfare governance. Finally, we highlight the emerging focus on individualisation and on user-directed and controlled services. We argue that the current focus of modernisation involves a reduced emphasis on structural and institutional approaches to change and an increased emphasis on changes in the behaviours and roles of adult social care service users. This focus has implications for both the future dynamics of welfare governance and for conceptions of citizenship.
The life-history method is a valuable tool for social policy research. Taking an anthropological approach to studying policy, the article analyses the usefulness of the method using data drawn from a set of recently collected life-work histories from the UK. These life-work histories document the experiences of individuals who have crossed over between the public sector and the ‘third sector’ during their careers. The article first briefly reviews the strengths and weaknesses of the life-history method, then goes on to analyse selected issues and themes that emerge from the data at both the contextual and the individual levels. The article concludes that life-history work adds to our knowledge of the relationship between these two sectors, and of the processes through which ideas about ‘sector’ and policy are constructed and enacted.
The New Labour government has set a target of getting 1,000,000 more people aged 50 and over (50+) back into work as part of its aim of achieving an overall employment rate of 80 per cent among people of working age. To this end, a variety of policies have been introduced to encourage citizens to work later in life, notably the 2006 Age Regulations. However, much of the government's analysis is based on supply-side reasoning that has retained its credibility only because of the rise in older people's employment rates that has taken place since 1994. This article focuses on the employment problems of older men, since their employment rates have fallen sharply since the 1970s. Examination of both the history of retirement and less favourable underlying economic trends suggests that extending the working lives of older men may not be easy.
While poverty is widely accepted to be an inherently multi-dimensional concept, it has proved very difficult to develop measures that both capture this multi-dimensionality and facilitate comparison of trends over time. Structural equation modelling appears to offer a solution to this conundrum and is used to exploit the British Household Panel Study to create a multi-dimensional measure of poverty. The analysis reveals that the decline in poverty in Britain between 1991 and 2003 was driven by falls in material deprivation, but more especially by reduced financial stress, particularly during the early 1990s. The limitations and potential of the new approach are critically discussed.
Social assistance programmes involving cash transfers to poor and vulnerable households have become a major focus of development policy in recent years. This article compares the experiences of three such programmes in Latin America: Oportunidades in Mexico, Jefes y Jefas de Hogares in Argentina, and Brazil's social pension. Particular attention is given to each programme's administrative effectiveness, as well as their impacts on poverty, human capital, and household and gender dynamics. More broadly, the article assesses whether these schemes live up to their billing as ‘best practice’ for developing countries, and how they relate to wider shifts in the political economy of welfare provision. It concludes that experiences have been mixed, that claims about positive outcomes are sometimes exaggerated, and that the potential of these programmes to substantially re-orientate welfare systems and promote equitable public policies remains limited.
Despite the fact that women's rights have been increasingly defined as equal to men's in law and policy, in post-Second World War Japan women continue to be at a disadvantage in many aspects of social and economic life. Drawing from a survey of 2,205 Japanese women, this article focuses in particular on women's home ownership as a new catalyst behind increasing social stratification in Japan. The women's experiences are closely linked to Japan's institutional ‘familism’: the development of social policy that has been explicitly connected to the male-breadwinner model. We argue that a wide range of institutional and policy practices – mortgage provision, property ownership, social security and taxation and labour market mechanisms – has combined to define the housing asset status of women. We discuss the women's current housing asset portfolio, and also recent socio-economic changes that have begun to redefine their position in a home-owning society. The case of Japan – a patriarchal but shifting home-owning democracy – contributes to our understanding of the contemporary dynamics of women's interaction between family, work and housing in the institutional context.
Over recent years there has been increasing policy concern in the UK about whether citizens are equipped with sufficient legal ‘know-how’. In January 2006, the Department for Constitutional Affairs, now Ministry of Justice, announced a Public Legal Education and Support Task Force to develop and promote the case for a national strategy. This comes after UK government strategies have recently been developed for both consumer education and financial capability. Drawing on empirical data, this article explores whether there is indeed a lack of awareness and confidence among the population of England and Wales in regard to legal issues. The results from the English and Welsh Civil and Social Justice Survey, a large-scale face-to-face survey representative of the population, illustrate the case for targeted as well as general public legal education initiatives.
In contrast to the study of outcomes such as social spending, systematic comparative analysis of political processes underlying welfare state change is scarce. This study deals with the influence of government parties and second chambers as veto players in social entitlement legislation. It asks three questions regarding the duration and outcome of the legislative process at the parliamentary stage. Does the number of government parties or the ideological distance between them affect the passage of bills? Under which circumstances do second chambers have an influence? Does the ideological position of the leftmost governing party affect the speed of passage of bills in policy areas where there is pressure for retrenchment? The hypotheses are tested using an original dataset on social entitlement bills initiated in Belgium, Germany and the UK between 1987/88 and 2002/03. Event history analysis at the level of individual bills yields the following results: proposals initiated from among the government parties on the floor are delayed by a higher number of parties in government, by greater ideological distance between them, if the second chamber is controlled by the opposition and its approval is mandatory, if the left veto player is more rightwing and if the bills deal with expansionary or mixed policies. Cabinet bills, in contrast, are not affected by any of these factors. The results point to a number of further research questions and show that quantitative studies in comparative welfare state research can go beyond testing simple hypotheses with macro-level outcome data.