Discovering Child Poverty: The Creation of a Policy Agenda from 1800 to the Present

Discovering Child Poverty: The Creation of a Policy Agenda from 1800 to the Present

Discovering Child Poverty: The Creation of a Policy Agenda from 1800 to the Present

Discovering Child Poverty: The Creation of a Policy Agenda from 1800 to the Present

Synopsis

Child poverty is currently regarded by many as the 'number one' issue in Britain. Yet it has not always been so high on the policy agenda. What were attitudes to poor children 200 years ago? How did child poverty emerge as both a quantifiable and urgent issue? And how did policy makers respond? These are the questions that this book tackles. The book presents a broad but sophisticated overview of 200 years of investigation into and responses to the plight of poor children identifies key moments and figures of the period includes chapters on children and work, education and child poverty research to provide the essential context for the story of the 'discovery' of child poverty.Clearly and accessibly written, this book provides a concise but richly detailed account of the subject. It will appeal to policy makers, practitioners, researchers and all those with an interest in child poverty wishing to understand the antecedents of current research and policy.Studies in poverty, inequality and social exclusion series Series Editor: David Gordon, Director, Townsend Centre for International Poverty Research.Poverty, inequality and social exclusion remain the most fundamental problems that humanity faces in the 21st century. This exciting series, published in association with the Townsend Centre for International Poverty Research at the University of Bristol, aims to make cutting-edge poverty related research more widely available.For other titles in this series, please follow the series link from the main catalogue page.

Excerpt

Over the last two hundred years, Britain has witnessed a dramatic shift in the level of concern and attention paid to the issue of child poverty. Child poverty is now high on the policy agenda and is broadly recognised as a problem for society and a fit subject for policy intervention. By setting the development of this policy agenda in historical perspective, this book aims to illuminate both the complex relationship between research and policy, and the way in which policy constructs its own objects of intervention. The role of research into child poverty has sometimes been perceived as being simply about identifying extent, causes and solutions, on which policy makers can then act. As this book argues, however, child poverty becomes politically salient only at certain moments and under certain conditions. Further, the emotive power of childhood, which makes a political imperative out of children’s disadvantage, is also mediated to a greater or lesser extent by particular ideological and political concerns prevailing at different times. Research can, nevertheless, help to create the conditions and to set the parameters for the ways in which governments respond when they do so. The discovery of child poverty and its place at the forefront of the current political agenda have been, then, both a matter of the quantification, study and accounts of child poverty and the recognition of such accounts and their relevance to the polity.

This book provides a broad introduction to developments in child poverty research and the fluctuating attention paid to child poverty over an extended period. A historical understanding of child poverty and the development of child poverty research is an important element to grasping one of the most topical issues of today. As Paul Pierson points out in his discussion of the ways, and extent to which, welfare state institutions themselves influence the conditions surrounding possibilities for their change,

Instead of turning to history for analogous processes, historically
grounded analysis should be based upon a recognition that social
policy change unfolds over time. The emphasis on the impact of
inherited policy structures illustrates this point. A historical perspective

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