Social Welfare

Authored by: Janet Newman

Routledge Handbook of Interpretive Political Science

Print publication date:  July  2015
Online publication date:  July  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415657143
eBook ISBN: 9781315725314
Adobe ISBN: 9781317533627


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In this chapter I set out to show something of the contested place of interpretive methods in social policy. In contrast to the Fabian traditions of empirical research that influenced the development and expansion of the British welfare state, interpretivism is strongly associated with forms of critical social policy analysis that centre on the cultural framing of welfare policies. It is concerned with the ideological formations that shape how policies are framed, or with the governmentalities that condition the relationships between states and citizens. It explores the cultural contexts in which policy comes to take on particular meanings at particular periods: for example, as a way of meeting social needs, as a means of containing demand for welfare support, as a means of classifying and categorizing citizens, as a means of shaping new kinds of autonomous and responsible welfare subject, and so on. From an interpretive stance ‘policies reflect particular kinds of knowledge of the problems we attend to and of how best to approach them… as such they are charters for social action’ (Kingfisher 2013: 20).

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