Scandal, Social Policy, and Social Welfare

Scandal, Social Policy, and Social Welfare

Scandal, Social Policy, and Social Welfare

Scandal, Social Policy, and Social Welfare

Synopsis

Scandals do not just happen. They are made. They are constructed out of such everyday tragedies as the small carelessnesses and institutional brutality of the long stay hospital, the abuse of children or the violent deaths of innocent bystanders. This book, by examining the landmark scandals of the post-war period, including more recent ones, such as the Victoria Climbie Inquiry, reveals how scandals are generated, to what purposes they are used and whose interests they are made to serve.In particular, it examines the role of the public inquiry, an increasingly familiar policy device, in the process whereby the 'story' of a particular scandal is told and its meaning fixed. Using transcripts, press coverage, materials from the Public Record Office and other contemporary sources each of the scandals described in the book is located in its own historical and policy context in order to explore the complex cause and effect relationship between public policy and scandal.

Excerpt

On completion of the First Edition of this book we were more convinced than ever of the importance of scandal as both a consequential and a causative factor in the development of British welfare policy. In the First Edition, we argued that not only are scandals ‘created’ at certain points in the production of welfare policy, but also that welfare policy is mediated by the scandalising process. The fact that so many more examples of this regular, reciprocal and self-perpetuating process have emerged in the period since the First Edition was published, confirms our faith in our original argument.

To this Second Edition, we have added a further chapter that reports a new wave of mental health scandals and which begins our analysis of the Climbié Inquiry. We say ‘begins’ deliberately. One of the central arguments of the book is that the significance of a set of particular events, no matter how tragic or disturbing, can not be assessed by reference only to the events themselves nor by reference only to the time in which they occurred. Their status, longevity and influence owe more to the context in which they emerge than might be readily apparent. The effects of Climbié, for example, may be more or less enduring than the effects of the Monckton Inquiry into the death of Denis O’Neil. They may eclipse Colwell. They may be eclipsed themselves by the death of a child whose name we do not yet know. Time alone will tell. By including emergent scandals and recent public inquiries in this edition of the book, we have taken the opportunity to observe the scandalising process ‘as it happens’ in a way that the structure of the First Edition did not allow. Our intention is not simply to update our account of public welfare scandals but to expand our analysis of the process whereby they are made and the uses to which they are put.

We wish to extend our particular thanks to Jo Campling for encouraging us to revise the book and for assisting in the process of publishing a paperback edition. We are also very grateful to the staff of The Policy Press for their help in seeing this book to fruition.

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