In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Journal of Social Policy, enjoy this special collection of articles published within the journal across the last 50 years, curated by the journal's editorial board.
Elke Heins' Selection
Le Grand is one of the grandees of UK social policy and has influenced policy developments under the New Labour government such as the introduction of quasi markets. This article is one of the firsts to engage with questions of behavioural sciences and their application to social policy. Behavioural insights and 'nudging' have subsequently become fashionable UK policy trends and some of the issues raised by Le Grand are as pertinent today as they were in 1997.
Jan Eichhorn's Selection
Social Policy at its best often challenges the use of established frameworks and indicators. This article provides support for the introduction of a greater range of measures of subjective wellbeing to refocus government activities. It does so in a complex way, arguing that subjective wellbeing cannot be reduced to simplistic accounts - as some governments did - but provides practical recommendations, demonstrating the relevance of good social policy research.
Lee Gregory's Selection
This paper has been influential in both my research and teaching. It provide a clear analysis of how neo-liberal praxis has shifted welfare provision, and also accounts for resistance to these changes which can disrupt neo-liberal end goals. It illustrate the high quality analysis that can be found within 50 years of output from JSP.
Stephan Köppe's Selection
Hamnett's article is one of the first to analyse inheritances and class inequality systematically with administrative data in Britain. His prediction that class inequalities will widen by 2020 underestimates the actual asset gulf that has emerged and is a warning about the further wealth inequalities once the baby boomers pass on to their next in kin.
Athina Vlachantoni's Selection
The way in which 'private' (family) life interacts with the public sphere and the welfare state has become increasingly important as family structures and lifecourses change, and Jane Lewis contributed to our better understanding in this area with all her work, of which this is a good example. Giuliano Bonoli's paper was published during the time of the 'exploding' debate on welfare state classification and was an important contribution in bridging the old (Bismark/Beveridge distinction) with new indicators becoming increasingly available. It paved the way for ever more nuanced efforts to classify welfare states, which social policy scholars still debate today.
Chris Holden's Selection
The article combines discussion of three inter-related processes: 1) ‘diffusion’, a concept that would later be subsumed under the idea of ‘policy transfer’; 2) what would now be called ‘globalization’, including an appeal to engage in analysis that transcends the ‘conventional methodological preoccupation with the nation state’; and 3) colonialism and imperialism, which are important factors in explaining the forms welfare systems take in low and middle-income countries. All of these three processes - policy transfer, the global and transnational aspects of social policy, and the development of welfare systems in low and middle-income countries - are now much more extensively studied than they were at the time the article was written, though the last one does not yet attract the attention it deserves.
Laura Bainbridge's Selection
This article was published in 1986 and provides an insightful analysis concerning why successive UK governments rejected the introduction of a comprehensive alcohol policy during the post-war period. As a framework, three potential explanations for this rejection are outlined: opposition by powerful interest groups; the hostility of voters and politicians; and opposition by government bureaucracies. The analysis presented chimes with the findings of my own contemporary research into the alcohol policy-making process; thus demonstrating its continued contribution and relevance in 2022.
Volkan Yilmaz's Selection
Welfare markets has been one of the most influential social policy ideas in the last 30 years, and this article provides an excellent analysis of the conditions under which welfare markets can function well, while describing their weaknesses in light of empirical data and normative considerations.
Sebnem Eroglu's Selection (and Elke Heins)
This article critically reviews the indicators used in measuring deprivation to show how the concept of deprivation can be used ‘more coherently in relation to that of poverty’. I think it would be good to include an article from Peter Townsend, the architect of the infamous relative deprivation approach commonly used in measuring poverty from a multi-dimensional perspective. Townsend has been so influential in UK poverty research and started a flurry of articles on this topic in this journal. As a classic it deserves inclusion in a 50 year anniversary issue.
Matt Dickson's Selection
The last 50 years has seen a transformation of higher education in the UK from an elite system in which less than 15% of young people participate, to a mass system that now educates more than 50% of school leavers. This has necessitated multiple changes in how HE is funded, with more of the cost burden falling on young people themselves. This paper demonstrates robustly the role debt aversion plays in the decision-making of prospective students, especially those from lower income families, presenting serious dangers for social mobility. The research provides important evidence to policymakers and is even more pertinent today given the three-fold increase in fees since this paper was first published.