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Demonstrating the relevance of theory to political and policy debates and practice, this lively and accessible second edition helps students to grasp the real-life implications of social policy theory.

It considers contemporary shifts in welfare ideologies in the context of global austerity and the UK Coalition and Conservative governments (2010 onwards). With a new chapter focusing on critical debates about disability, sexuality and the environment, this textbook also includes fresh reflections on migration, social security conditionality, resilience, social justice and human rights.

Key features include:

• real-life examples from UK and international politics and policy to explain and illuminate the significance of social policy theory;

• key questions for student reflection and engagement;

• and bulleted chapter summaries and annotated further readings at the end of every chapter.

This new edition is a dynamic, engaging and valuable introduction to the key theoretical perspectives and concepts deployed in social policy.

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Approaching, Contextualizing, and Embodying Sense-Making Practices in Alternative Cultures

The concept of ‘subculture’ is an invaluable tool to frame the study of non-normative and marginal cultures for social and cultural scholars.

This international collection uncovers the significance of meaning-making in the processes of defining, studying and analyzing subcultural phenomena.

Examining various dimensions of interpretivism, the book focuses on overarching concerns related to interpretation as well as day-to-day considerations that affect researchers’ and members’ interpretations of subcultural phenomena. It reveals how and why people use specific conceptual frames or methods and how those shape their interpretations of everyday realities.

This is an unprecedented contribution to the field, explaining the interpretive processes through which people make sense of subcultural phenomena.

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Marx argued that capitalist society acts against the core capacities, skills and talents of human beings, and that it also limits their realisation or channels them into activities related to profit rather than need.

Bringing Marx’s theory of alienation forward to the present day, this book uniquely links it to health and well-being. Using case studies and vignettes of workers across different industries, it reveals their lived experiences, offering crucial insights into the insidious ways in which capitalism continues to damage human well-being.

This is a resounding call for how society can change for the better.

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Critical Perspectives on the Promise of Stories

At a time of contested realities and a renewed focus on the power of personal stories, narrative research is as relevant as ever. But while it has been praised for ‘giving voice’ to individuals and highlighting how they make sense of the social world, critics are starting to question which voices are being heard, or allowed to speak, and which experiences are made to count.

Supported by the editors’ popular podcast Narrative Now, this interdisciplinary volume addresses timely concerns about representation, power, voice, and the ethics of storytelling.

Contributors explore the capacities and limitations of narrative research, and map out new directions for the field while honouring its legacy.

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From Dystopia Back to Utopia

From fake news to infringement of privacy in digital spheres, the changing landscapes of media and public communication have completely transformed contemporary democracies in recent decades.

Disruptions of media functioning can be seen as evidence for a transition from democracy to post-democracy, but how plausible is this scenario? Using empirical evidence, the author asks how imminent the threat of the end of democracy is, and how it can be restored.

Exploring the creative and destructive ways individuals and groups make use of new digital and social media in democratic societies across the world, the book presents a much-needed critical theory of the public sphere as we enter the new digital age.

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A Conversation between Memories and Futures

In this book leading sociologists explore how in our digital age of connectivity, temporal acceleration and real-time simultaneity impact personal experience, relations between generations and institutional processes.

The authors analyse the entanglement between past and future and explain how our ability to conceive the future is based not only upon the memory of the past, but also on forecasts about environmental crisis. Bringing memory and future studies into a unique dialogue, they highlight the crucial role of the past elaboration processes in freeing the future from the weight of trauma and renewing the ability to hope.

Offering a sophisticated and innovative social theory in a burgeoning field, this is a much-needed intervention to the current ‘temporal crisis’ of social life and sociological debates.

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A Utopia for Radical Interdependence

In the context of sustained economic and environmental crises, marked by extreme inequalities of wealth, rising xenophobia, racism and precarity, never has the need for a radical change of system been so pressing.

This book is an invitation to think the world otherwise. The author breathes new life into socialist thought through the deployment of an intersectional lens, bringing diverse struggles for emancipation both within and outside the Global North into dialogue with one another.

In doing so, he offers the kind of bold and holistic thinking the present situation calls for.

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Countermemories and Social Conflicts over the Past

Memory is at the center of a diverse array of political conflicts, moral disputes and power dynamics.

This book illustrates how scholars use different interpretive lenses to study and explain profound conflicts rooted in the past.

Addressing issues of racism, genocide, trauma, war, nationalism, colonial occupation and more, it highlights how our interpretations of contentious memories are indispensable to our understandings of contemporary conflicts and identities.

Featuring an international group of scholars, this book makes important contributions to social memory studies, but also shows how studying memory is vital to our understanding of enduring social problems that span the globe.

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Between Meaning and Matter

Written by leading social scientists working in and across a variety of analytic traditions, this ambitious, insightful volume explores interpretation as a focal metaphor for understanding the body’s influence, meaning, and matter in society.

Interpreting body and embodiment in social movements, health and medicine, race, sex and gender, globalization, colonialism, education, and other contexts, the book’s chapters call into question taken-for-granted ideas of where the self, the social world, and the body begin and end.

Encouraging reflection and opening new perspectives on theories of the body that cut through the classic mind/body divide, this is an important contribution to the literature on the body.

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Semiotics provides key analytical tools to understand the creation and reproduction of meaning in social life. Although some fields have productively incorporated semiotic models, sociology still needs to engage with semiosis mediation.

Written by a diverse group of authors in interpretive sociology, this ambitious volume asks what the relationship between meaning systems and action is, how we can describe culture and which roles we assign to language, social processes and cognition in a sociological context. Contributors offer empirical research that not only outlines the conceptual issues at stake, but also demonstrates ‘how to do things’ with semiotics through case studies.

Synthesizing a diverse and fragmented landscape, this is a key reference work for scholars interested in the connection between semiotics and sociology.

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