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Why do top-down reforms to public services so often over-promise and under-deliver?

Using five concepts from psychology, economics and organisational sociology, Thomas Elston addresses this pressing question of good governance.

Focusing on the practical challenge of how to undertake better public management reforms, he questions the assumption that failure typically occurs because of poor reform implementation. Instead, he shows how reforms are often badly designed from the outset, being fashion-led, more focused more on fixing errors than exploiting opportunities and ignoring implicit costs of change.

This concise, practically-orientated work employs diverse examples to propose ways to improve the design of public sector reform programmes – and the services that citizens receive.

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As the practices of public governance are rapidly changing, so must the theoretical frameworks for understanding the creation of efficient, effective and democratic governance solutions.

First published as a special issue of Policy & Politics journal, this book explores the role of strategic management, digitalisation and generative platforms in encouraging the co-creation of innovative public value outcomes. It considers why we must transform the public sector to drive co-creation and the importance of integrating different theoretical strands when studying processes, barriers and outcomes.

This book lays out important stepping-stones for the development of new research into the ongoing transition to co-creation as a mode of governance.

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Disadvantaged Students, Exclusion and Social Justice
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Why do disadvantaged students continue to get a poor deal as they progress through England’s education system?

Challenging orthodox thinking about school exclusion, this book powerfully advocates for a fairer education system for disadvantaged students. It argues that the current conceptualisation of ‘exclusion’ – physically removing the student from the school – is insufficient. This approach fails to recognise the layers of exclusion that these students encounter. Students can be excluded within their schools (inner exclusion), not just from school (outer exclusion).

Drawing on student experiences of exclusion and the perspectives of senior leaders, including the author who is a Head of School, this book demonstrates how we can create a fairer education system for disadvantaged students.

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Racialisation and Practices of Care

This book examines the contemporary social care realities and practices of Finland, a small nation with a history enmeshed in social relations as both colonizer and colonized. Decolonising Social Work in Finland:

• Interrogates coloniality, racialization and diversity in the context of Finnish social work and social care.

• Brings together racialized and mainstream white Finnish researchers, activists, and community members to challenge relations of epistemic violence on racialized populations in Finland.

• Critically unpacks colonial views of care and wellbeing.

It will be essential reading for international scholars and students in the fields of Social Work, Sociology, Indigenous Studies, Health Sciences, Social Sciences, and Education.

Introduction and Chapter 10 available Open Access under CC-BY-NC-ND licence.

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The Lived Experience of Bankruptcy and Redemption
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Capitalism only celebrates success, and it can be difficult to know what to do when confronted with failure.

This book explores what happens when people go broke and what the experience of bankruptcy and insolvency is like from a qualitative perspective. It shows, contrary to the expectations of policy makers, that debt relief is not transactional. Rather, it is moral, theological, social and cultural.

The book demonstrates that debt encompasses fairness, trust, faith, sin, guilt, revelation and confession and that taking these factors seriously is vital to successfully navigating the world of the over-indebted.

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Changing Relationships, Personal Life and Inequality
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This book offers an innovative perspective on Muslim family life in British society. Drawing on recent debates, the book considers how theories of family have overlooked Muslim families and offers a comprehensive framework to address this oversight.

Informed by decolonising approaches, the book sheds light on the impact of narrow and stigmatising perspectives that shape our understanding of Muslim families. The author pays close attention to the increasing diversity of family forms and to the role of gender and generation, whilst also considering race, ethnicity and class. In doing so, she demonstrates how a better understanding of Muslim family life can inform policies to address inequalities, and advocates for placing Muslim families at the heart of policy solutions.

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We Do!
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This book traces the history of nurseries in the UK, the types and levels of provision, the long-standing splits between welfare care and public education, and community-based attempts to improve the situation. It charts the shifts in public attitudes towards these various forms of childcare and argues that the privatization of childcare, as for many other privatized services, has been a profound mistake that has entrenched inequality and resulted in poor-quality, yet very costly, services for children.

The book recognizes the considerable difficulties in overhauling the way in which nursery education and care are delivered and paid for, but makes practical suggestions about the ways forward. These include more support for flexible state nursery education, a ban on the offshore privatized nursery companies that increasingly dominate nursery ownership, a substantial overhaul of Ofsted’s remit, and involvement of the many unqualified care workers at the fringes of nursery provision.

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Educational Stratification, Meritocracy and Widening Participation

Despite the high aspirations of young people from disadvantaged communities, they face barriers that are frustrating the realisation of their educational ambitions.

This book analyses the ‘left-behind’ phenomenon and shows how education has become the new divide in Western society. It explains how denied educational equality and frustrated opportunity are undermining social cohesion and what we can do about it. It challenges meritocratic thinking and the efficacy of widening participation as a policy for social inclusion.

Combining analysis of educational disadvantage at an international level and among Travelling communities with empirical data derived from fieldwork with parents, teachers and students in the European Union (Ireland), this book offers fresh thinking and new hope in relation to young people left behind in the opportunity structure.

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Theory, Context and Practice
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In dealing with individual problems and difficulties, critical social work (CSW) is an emancipatory practice which seeks to address social injustice. In this book the author draws on almost 40 years’ experience as a social worker to consider CSW in core areas of practice with children and families.

Fully updated to cover the impact of austerity, Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic and cost of living crisis, this accessible textbook is essential reading for students, educators and practitioners of child and family social work. It features:

• clearly signposted ‘theory’ and ‘practice’ sections;

• over 10 case studies including those drawn from the author’s experience;

• end of chapter ‘Key points’ summaries;

• further reading suggestions.

With expanded coverage of race and intersectionality, contextual safeguarding and critical child protection, the book champions the development of resilient social workers working towards a more just and equal world.

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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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