Comparative Social Policy: Theory and Research

Comparative Social Policy: Theory and Research

Comparative Social Policy: Theory and Research

Comparative Social Policy: Theory and Research


• What are the social policy processes and outcomes across different societies?
• How are these shaped by social and economic conditions?
• What are the limitations and potential of cross-national research?

Comparative Social Policy explores the new context of social policy and considers how cross-national theory and research can respond to the challenges facing welfare. These challenges include changing demographic trends and economic conditions which have been accompanied by the emergence of new needs and risks within and across societies. This book extends and deepens cross-national research by exploring the theoretical and conceptual frameworks through which social policy and welfare systems have been understood. It critically examines different policy processes and welfare outcomes, as well as the ethnocentricism and cultural imperialism which has permeated cross-national epistemology and methodology. The author concludes by reflecting on how cross-national research can illuminate the complex and diverse processes leading to discrimination and inequality across borders. This leads to a consideration of how it can contribute to the implementation of welfare provision appropriate to the social and economic conditions of contemporary societies. Comparative Social Policy is an essential text for undergraduate and masters level students of social policy, and an invaluable reference for researchers embarking on cross-national social research.


Welcome to the first 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.

It is entirely appropriate that the first volume in the series should be concerned with cross-national perspectives in social policy. Over the past 20 years the study of social policy has been enriched and extended by the comparative perspective which has moved the study of welfare influences, arrangements and outcomes beyond the confines of one country or nationstate in isolation.

This emphasis is reflected in the contents of Patricia Kennett’s book. But her contribution to the series is also more distinctive since she engages with the process - as well as the outcomes - of cross-national social policy research, and with the implementation of an integrated approach to comparative social policy. That leads her to discuss issues around citizenship, gender and development, as well as globalization, the role of the nation-state and supra-national governance.

Patricia Kennett has provided an exciting contribution to comparative social policy studies which successfully integrates the results of recent research with an informed discussion of the research process itself.

David Gladstone, University of Bristol

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