Social policies categorise people. A primary category is those who require support. Another is those who provide support. Those who are subject to social policy are then further divided; we call them service-users, patients, recipients, tenants, etc. And those who provide services are called social workers, medics, civil servants, housing officers etc. Social policy academics can look at the impact of social policy for those who use services, the organisation of those provide services or the relationship between the two. I have been turning my attention more recently to that last point. This is for three main reasons. First, I am not convinced by the divide between those in need and those who provide. I am both teacher and learner. I offer help but also require it. I require help, but can also provide it. Second, the relationship is subject to the implementation of policy. The consequences of legislation and resource allocation mean that it is not simply about practitioners using professional judgement, but understanding the context of their practice. Third, the relationship is not as described and is frequently far from the ideal that the terms service-user and provider would suggest. If the expectation is that someone described as in need of a service will receive an appropriate and professional service from someone described as a service-provider, that expectation is often thwarted. Continue reading
Inequality is everywhere.
Evidencing inequality is the easy part. Exposing the injustice and ridiculous consequences of inequality is important. But, understanding the reasons for its ongoing hold on social life is where it gets difficult. This novel Naomi Alderman’s The Power runs with the suggestion that the reason for gender inequality is as banal as physical strength. Continue reading
The blurb for this short novel reads:
A young man stands looking out to sea.
Behind him the horror of the trenches, and the most intense relationship of his life.
Ahead of him the terrible unforeseen consequences of a lie.
I picked up this book for two reasons. First I had read previous books by Dunmore and her flair for recreating an historic moment through careful research but few words is a pleasure. Second, it is about the First World War, an era that fascinates me by being both near and far in the public imagination.
L P Hartley wrote as the first words to The Go Between:
The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.
Contrast this with Eric Midwinter (1994: 11) writing about history and social policy:
It is more than a passing or antiquated interest which should prompt an appraisal of medieval England. Apart from the discovery there of the origins of some present day welfare mechanisms, it serves the other purpose of demonstrating how societies different in style from our own are faced with basically similar problems