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