Perspectives on Welfare: Ideas, Ideologies, and Policy Debates

Perspectives on Welfare: Ideas, Ideologies, and Policy Debates

Perspectives on Welfare: Ideas, Ideologies, and Policy Debates

Perspectives on Welfare: Ideas, Ideologies, and Policy Debates


"Of the several discussions of the American poverty theorists I have read, this is easily the best. Anyone interested in that debate should begin here." - Professor Lawrence M. Mead, New York University

"...a compelling guide to the ideas that have shaped and seek to re-shape welfare provision. This is a student text that teachers will want to read first." - Professor Robert Walker, University of Nottingham

• How do welfare benefits and services shape the attitudes, behaviour and character of claimants? Should entitlement be dependent upon good behaviour?

• What are the major intellectual influences upon current welfare reforms in the UK and the US?

• Is it possible to reform welfare in ways which tackle both social inequality and welfare dependency?

This lucid and engaging book provides an introduction to the current debates about the future direction of welfare reform on both sides of the Atlantic. The first part outlines a range of different perspectives on welfare, and shows how each of these perspectives rests upon a different assumption about the role and purpose of welfare policy and a different understanding of human nature and motivation. Some of these perspectives see the primary role of welfare as to reduce inequalities, while others see the central objective as the reduction of welfare dependency. The second part shows how the current debates in Britain and the United States are informed by these perspectives, and argues that debates about inequality and dependency are not mutually exclusive but address different dimensions of the same problem. In all, this illuminating and forward-looking text is essential reading for courses in social policy, health, and social welfare, as well as those with a political and wider interest in welfare reform.


Welcome to the fourth volume in the Introducing Social Policy series. The series itself is designed to provide a range of well-informed texts on a wide variety of topics that fall within the ambit of social policy studies.

Although primarily designed with undergraduate social policy students in mind, it is hoped that the series — and individual titles within it — will have a wider appeal to students in other social science disciplines and to those engaged on professional and post-qualifying courses in health care and social welfare.

The aim throughout the planning of the series has been to produce a series of texts that both reflect and contribute to contemporary thinking and scholarship, and which present their discussion in a readable and easily accessible format.

Alan Deacon's contribution to the series provides a compelling and stimulating perspective on the current debates about welfare reform in Britain and the United States. In the process he provides a series of well-documented but accessible discussions of some of the principal thinkers of the present and the recent past. These include Richard Titmuss, the first Professor of Social Administration in a British university, who is best remembered for his view of welfare as an expression of altruism, and the American conservative Charles Murray, best known for his controversial studies of the underclass.

But the value of Deacon's study lies not only in his powers of exposition. It is the way he uses the theorists he has selected to highlight different perspectives on what the role and purpose of welfare should be. Thus we are presented with welfare as an expression of altruism, a mechanism for moral regeneration and, perhaps most significantly for practical policies in Britain and the United States, welfare as a transition to work. Inequality, dependency and human agency are all integral to Deacon's study, which ends with . . .

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