Social and Public Policy

As the leading publisher in Social and Public Policy, we publish in the core social sciences to highlight social issues, advance debate and positively influence policy and practice. 

Our list leads the way on conversations around inequality and social injustice featuring authors such as Peter Townsend, Kayleigh Garthwaite, Danny Dorling, Pete Alcock, John Hills and Bob Jessop. Series including the International Library of Policy Analysis and Research in Comparative and Global Social Policy bring international, high-quality scholarship together in order to address globally shared challenges.

Our key journals in this field are the Journal of Poverty and Social Justice, an internationally unique forum for leading research on the themes of poverty and social justice, Policy & Politics, a world-leading journal that is committed to advancing our understanding of the dynamics of policy making and implementation, and Evidence & Policy, dedicated to comprehensive and critical assessment of the relationship between researchers and the evidence they produce and the concerns of policy makers and practitioners.

Social and Public Policy

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The context of this research paper is Cardiff in the UK. Imams from five different mosques were interviewed about integration and whether mosque open days and community activities support community cohesion. The research shows that the imams and their respective mosques are open to others in the local community, and are making efforts to engage with the local population, government agencies, and public services. Clear efforts are being made to encourage community cohesion, with the imams keen to pass on the message of a shared humanity to the wider community. The research provides some unique insights that help to fill the gap in the academic literature on Muslim communities, and may be used to inform policymakers on ways of supporting mosques and local communities in developing intercultural relations and creating an environment that is conducive to community cohesion

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This article analyses how regional actors and national authorities shape and transform ‘the region’ from a geographical place into an object of governance for organising and delivering older person care. Drawing on an extensive ethnographic research project in the Netherlands, our findings show that these actors in interaction constitute the region through three practices: consistently creating urgency to foreground regional problems and solutions; renegotiating regulatory policies to facilitate regional care provision; and reconstructing care infrastructures to materialise regional care provision. Actors use and obtain power from co-existing and interacting institutional arrangements to develop new regional care arrangements. This evokes new interdependencies that reconfigure existing governance arrangements. Studying governance objects in-the-making reveals the required iterations, reconsiderations, and adjustments as processes within a given (ambiguous) institutional context, and which lead to institutional change. As regional organisation policies are increasingly scrutinised, this article provides an interesting and important contribution to this field.

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Punctuated equilibrium theory (PET) has evolved into a comprehensive theory of organisational information processing over the past two decades, with hundreds of studies adopting it to examine various aspects of the policy process. Despite the growing number of studies building on PET, however, our understanding of stability and change in media agendas remains rather limited. I propose a theory that seeks to explain the conditions under which media agendas are more punctuated and test my hypotheses using a dataset of 7 million news stories from 15 newspapers in Belgium, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands and the UK between 2000 and 2019. Results, based on an analysis of change distributions and a series of regression models, highlight two important findings: first, punctuations in the media agenda are less severe and frequent than those in other organisational agendas. Second, the severity of punctuations is greater in politicised news and diminished in issue areas related to ‘core functions of government’ (Jennings et al, 2011), relative to non-politicised news and issues outside the core areas, respectively. Results also suggest that despite the varying media and political characteristics of the countries examined in this study, change distributions of media attention are strikingly similar across the country cases. Through this novel and innovative study, the article contributes to PET theory by considering different elements of news stories, as well as re-engaging with the discussion of the relationship between the media and politics.

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This study examines the relationship between coping styles, job satisfaction, and subjective wellbeing among non-profit (NPO) workers serving refugees. A sample of 228 paid and volunteer NPO workers based in Turkey was analysed, revealing generally high levels of job satisfaction and widespread utilisation of coping mechanisms. The most common coping strategies among NPO workers include social support, exercise, and prayer/spirituality. Interestingly, while no significant variations were found in happiness and life satisfaction scores based on coping strategies, there were significant differences in job satisfaction scores. Specifically, employing prayer/spirituality as a coping strategy is associated with higher levels of happiness, life satisfaction, and job satisfaction. These results suggest the potential benefits of incorporating prayer/spirituality into coping mechanisms within the NPO work. Conversely, workers who did not utilise any coping strategies reported the lowest levels of job satisfaction, highlighting the importance of employing coping strategies to enhance job satisfaction in NPO work.

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Why do individuals in democratic societies voluntarily request and support stringent policies? What factors contribute to variations in support for different restrictive measures among citizens? This study examines the micro-level impact of the securitisation narrative on individuals’ voluntary support for stringent policies within a democratic context, using the narrative policy framework. Based on evidence from a conjoint experiment conducted in Taiwan, the study finds that agreeing with the narrative ‘COVID-19 is a national security threat’ does not translate into support for all types of restrictive measures. The contents of the securitisation narrative matter significantly; individuals who are more persuaded by the narratives are more likely to support border containment measures and mask mandates because of how narrative contents were structured. These findings highlight the importance for researchers and policymakers to carefully consider policy narrative contents to effectively communicate and garner support for a range of policies during times of crisis.

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Background

By establishing and implementing an integrated four-year health policy, Dutch municipalities contribute significantly to the protection and promotion of public health. Scientific literature has many insights into integrated health policy, determinants of health and interventions. How is this knowledge used when determining and shaping an integrated health policy? The authors share their experiences concerning the role of knowledge in: 1) determining policy; 2) integrated collaboration; 3) working towards a healthy living environment; and 4) creating a citywide health movement.

Key points

Based on working on an integrated health policy and the setbacks we have encountered, we have experienced that scientific knowledge and models provide a framework for policy implementation, but other types of knowledge about context, processes and practice are just as important. Furthermore, we learned that other factors are often more decisive in policy and implementation, including the interests of individual parties, correct timing, continuity of persons, and courageous administrators. Working on integrated health policy is a continuous process of staying on course and adapting at the same time, in which searching for the suitable knowledge to work in an evidence-informed way must be part of it.

Conclusion

The greatest challenge when using knowledge in practice lies in expanding the collaboration between researchers, policymakers, professionals and inhabitants, for example by using boundary spanners. The collaboration should aim to organise a long-lasting adaptive collaboration aimed at mutual learning. This should focus on shared discussion of relevant knowledge, with less emphasis on pure acquisition and use of scientific knowledge.

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Before the introduction of the household benefit cap in the UK in 2013 the previous mechanism there limited the income of social assistance recipients was the wage stop, operating for four decades between 1935 and 1975. Similar to the benefit cap, the wage stop reflected and reproduced concerns with incentivising unemployed people to labour. This raises questions about why the wage stop was abolished in the mid-1970s when worries about unemployment continued, particularly its intersections with out-of-work benefits. It is widely argued that the abolition of the wage stop was a consequence of lobbying by the Child Poverty Action Group. Drawing upon records held at the UK’s National Archives, this article argues that this is an over-simplified explanation that, first, ignores concerns with the wage stop that pre-dated the Child Poverty Action Group’s criticism of it, including concerns within the assistance boards with its administration. And, second, while by the mid-1970s there was (albeit ambiguous) concern with the impacts of the wage stop, there was a shift in approach that emphasised the supplementation of low wages with social security benefits, rather than forcing social assistance below the assessed needs of households, as being a preferable means of ensuring the incentive to take wage-labour.

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By ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, states committed themselves to ensure an adequate standard of living and social protection to all persons with disabilities, including children. Yet, prior studies showed that children with disabilities are more likely to grow up poor. Existing research has mainly focused on single-country case studies or comparative analyses for low- and middle-income countries. Due to the lack of good quality data, comparative studies on poverty outcomes, its determinants and the poverty-reducing role of social transfers among children with disabilities in high-income countries are largely missing. This article addresses these gaps using the 2017 EU-SILC cross-sectional survey. The results show great differences across Europe in the prevalence of childhood disability, the poverty outcomes of children with disabilities and the poverty-reducing effectiveness of social transfers for them. In only a third of European countries are children with disabilities more likely to live in poor households than children without disabilities. Countries that perform weakly for children without disabilities also perform weakly for children with disabilities. Moreover, social transfers achieve more for children with disabilities in more than half of European countries. The family’s employment participation and social background have the expected poverty-reducing effects for children with disabilities and children without disabilities, though the strength of some effects differs between the two groups within certain geographical regions. However, the income-based poverty indicator disregards the higher costs families with children with disabilities face which underestimates their poverty risk. More research is needed on which poverty indicator accurately reflects the real living standards of children with disabilities.

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The Scottish Government has ambitions to build a new social security system in Scotland with new powers over social security. With the ability to now entirely replace the UK’s Personal Independence Payment, highly controversial for the way it has narrowed entitlement and made the process of applying stressful, the Scottish Government has the opportunity to transform both the experience of disabled people in applying for social security and ensure that what is paid more accurately reflects the costs of disability. However, while significant improvements to the process of applying appear to have been made and these are having a positive impact on access to payment, the Scottish Government’s gradualist approach has also put off by some years more fundamental improvements.

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While the evidence base on successful practices in knowledge exchange is rapidly growing, much less attention has been given in the academic literature to documenting and reflecting on failures in trying to exchange different types of evidence between academics, practice partners and policymakers. However, learning from failures is just as important, if not more crucial, than celebrating successes. Therefore, in this introduction to the special issue on learning from failures in knowledge exchange, we discuss crosscutting themes across the seven papers. We start by comparing and theorising different definitions of failures, and by exploring the relational barriers and structural stressors underlying these failures. We argue for the creation of a ‘failure culture’ in organisations, in which failures are no longer avoided but actively encouraged. To turn failures into successes, we identify a need for more sharing and publishing of failures, early engagement with stakeholders in the knowledge exchange process, and illustrate the importance of boundary spanners. We conclude with recommendations for future work, related to promising theoretical approaches, such as system thinking, the re-addressing of power imbalances through leadership, and highlight art-based approaches as a mechanism for rebalancing power.

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