1: Race and social policy: challenges and obstacles


This chapter asks what the pressing racial inequalities are in contemporary British society and to what extent is social policy as a discipline equipped to analyse and respond to these. It provides an overview of some contemporary outcomes in the key areas of labour market participation, education, and criminal justice, summarising some prevailing features and patterns, before going on to explore in more detail whether social solicy as it is presently configured, focusing as it does on the concern with a redistributive notion of equality, is sufficiently well placed to grasp these. The chapter then develops a fascinating argument based on the observation of the need to fully incorporate an account of institutional racism and ‘everyday bordering’, as well as a critical understanding of the so-called ‘progressives dilemma’ set out by David Goodhart. The history of social policy as a disciplinary practice may stymie the kinds of foci that are needed. This analysis demands a recognition that mainstream social policy inquiry is parochial, but also that the object of inquiry is shaped by historical racism.

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