Research

 

You will find a complete range of our monographs, muti-authored and edited works including peer-reviewed, original scholarly research across the social sciences and aligned disciplines. We publish long and short form research and you can browse the complete Bristol University Press and Policy Press archive of over 1600 titles.

Policy Press also publishes policy reviews and polemic work which aim to challenge policy and practice in certain fields. These books have a practitioner in mind and are practical, accessible in style, as well as being academically sound and referenced.
 

Books: Research

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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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Postliberalism, Street-Level Bureaucracy and the Reawakening of Democratic Citizenship
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In recent years, failures in health and social care, mental health services, public housing, welfare and policing have dominated headlines and been the subject of much public debate. The means for addressing such concerns have become increasingly legalistic and subject to a particular brand of liberal legalism that stifles the possibility of transformational intervention.

For this reason, this book argues there is urgent need for a radical reassessment of the way the law mediates between citizens and the state. Drawing on public inquiries into high-profile cases, such as Hillsborough and Grenfell, fictional/cinematic treatments such as I, Daniel Blake, and the disability rights movement, this book examines how the regulation of street-level bureaucracy can play an integral part in reimagining postliberal politics and the role of the law.

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A Manifesto for a New Social Contract

A public health crisis is gripping the UK. Improvements in life expectancy have stalled, health inequalities have widened, obesity and alcohol misuse are placing an increasing strain on health services and urban air pollution is now widely recognised as a serious health hazard. COVID-19 revealed the weaknesses of the UK's public health system, once thought to be among the best in the world.

Against this background, this book examines the organisational and political barriers to an effective public health system showcased through the UK. It urges that what is needed is a new social contract, in which health policy is truly public.

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This book is about tax and social policy and how they interact with each other.

The impact of taxation as an instrument of social policy is central in influencing redistribution and behaviour. This broad-based edited collection fills a significant gap in both literatures, bringing together disparate debates in this emerging area of analysis.

It guides readers through the key interactions of tax and social policies and the central debates and challenges posed by their effect on each other. It examines how analyses might be combined and policy options developed for more effective delivery and impact in both areas.

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Lessons and Insights from an Evidence Movement

The last decade has seen a growing focus on producing evidence-based policy and practice in governments around the world – with a specific focus on causal evidence of the impacts of a particular policy on outcomes for citizens. The UK is a key example of this, with the establishment of 14 What Works Centres which collate, create and translate evidence in different policy and practice domains.

In this book, leaders, researchers and practitioners from these institutions share insights to help understand what has worked so far in the Centres, and what could be done better in future. It offers guidance to policy makers and funders looking to establish new centres, and for academics looking to create similar institutions that can have a practical impact on the improvement of the world around us.

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Local Taxation and the Social Contract in America
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Carrie Manning’s illuminating book examines how policies to limit taxation at state and local levels in the U.S. have direct and lasting consequences for equity, accountability, and ultimately for democracy.

Tax structures embed, and reproduce, an implicit social contract between government and citizens, creating path-dependent outcomes that produce unintended consequences that are rarely traced back to state and local revenue models. This book combines historical American political development with the study of state formation. It provides a clear-eyed investigation into the past, present, and future of the social contract between America’s local governments and citizens.

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A Contemporary Introduction

Dive inside this textbook for an accessible guide to the discipline of public services.

Perfect for students, it offers a comprehensive account of core public service topics and explains the fundamental elements of working in the public services. Outlining their role in the welfare state, it explores the policies, providers and legalities shaping the context in which public services operate.

Students will study concepts of organisational change, strategy, management, leadership and funding, and engage with timely discussions around contemporary public issues such as equality, sustainability and climate change. Key features to support student learning include:

  • objectives at the beginning of each chapter;

  • case studies and examples;

  • end of chapter summaries;

  • reflective questions;

  • further reading recommendations and resources.

Bringing together authors with expertise in politics and public policy, social policy and law, this book is essential reading for everybody studying public services.

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Education policy has a long tradition of political sociology, but the dominant trend continues to be sociological.

Drawing on data and analysis from the Education Policy Knowledgeable Polity (EPKP) project, supported by funders such as the British Academy and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), this book aims to restore the role of political analysis by presenting a new political sociology for framing, conducting and presenting education policy research.

In doing so, it will be the first in the field to connect political thinking from Arendt with sociological thinking from Bourdieu, producing innovative analysis for and about educational reform.

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A Practical Handbook for Public Service Organisations
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Why is it hard to know if you are making a difference in public services? What can you do about it?

Public services throughout the world face the challenge of tackling complex issues where multiple factors influence change. This book sets out practical and theoretically robust, tried and tested approaches to understanding and tracking change that any organisation can use to ensure it makes a difference to the people it cares about.

With case studies from health, community, research, international development and social care, this book shows that with the right tools and techniques, public services can track their contribution to social change and become more efficient and effective.

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Rethinking What Motivates Public Actors
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Chris O’Leary looks afresh at the reasons for prosocial work choices in the first substantive critique of Public Service Motivation (PSM).

With critical analysis of theoretical and empirical research to date, this book explores the pros and cons of PSM and interrogates the reasons why people choose to work in the public and third sectors. It proposes an alternative theory for the pursuit of service, rooted in rational choice theory, that shows public servants are expressly motivated to confirm their values and identity through their work.

For those involved in public policy, administration and management, this is a constructive and stimulating review of an important but often neglected aspect of the sector.

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