Archive for the 'Social Policy' Category

Blinded by science: when biology meets policy

Sue White and David Wastell, authors of Blinded by science out today, explain the rise of neuroscience and genetics and their influence and impact on social policy.

David Wastell

Sue White

“Biological sciences, particularly neuroscience and genomics, are currently in the ascent. These new ‘techno-sciences’ are increasingly seen to promise a theory of everything in the psychosocial realm.

Social policy has not been slow to conscript technological biology, and is making significant use of neuroscientific evidence to support particular claims about both the soaring potentialities and irreversible vulnerabilities of early childhood, and the proper responses of the state.

The far reaching implications of epigenetics

The last decades have also seen a profound shift in our understanding of biological processes and life itself.

Whereas genetics has conventionally focused on examining the DNA sequence (the genotype), the burgeoning field of epigenetics examines additional mechanisms for modifying gene expression in manifest behaviours, physical features, health status and so on (the phenotype).

It provides a conduit mediating the interaction of the environment on an otherwise immutable DNA blueprint, and invites a natural interest in the impact of adverse conditions, such as deprivation or ‘suboptimal’ parenting. The implications of this for social policy are far reaching.

Continue reading ‘Blinded by science: when biology meets policy’

Now is the time for Social Democracy: here’s how Labour can achieve it

 

kevin-hickson

Kevin Hickson

On his return from the Labour Party Conference, Kevin Hickson, author of Rebuilding Social Democracy: core principles for the Left, calls for Social Democracy and presents his ideas on how this should be brought about.

Following his decisive second mandate in less than 12 months, Jeremy Corbyn called on the Labour Party to unite. Without unity the party has no prospect of power. Divided parties always lose elections and the Conservatives have united very quickly after the EU referendum and change of Prime Minister.

Corbyn’s calls for unity seem short-lived, however, with reports of more conflict at the party’s National Executive Committee over the weekend, including the changes that were made at the last minute to Clive Lewis’ speech by Corbyn’s communications chief, Seamus Milne, over the renewal of Trident.

The truce was barely holding up and conference hadn’t even finished!

It is in this context that Rebuilding Social Democracy is published… apparently inauspicious timing, but the need has never been greater.

“Social Democracy is needed in modern Britain and the only adequate vehicle for its implementation is the Labour Party.”

Continue reading ‘Now is the time for Social Democracy: here’s how Labour can achieve it’

Where you live can kill you

Clare Bambra’s book Health Divides: where you live can kill you, published by Policy Press today reveals shocking facts about the social, environmental, economic and political causes of these health inequalities. In today’s guest blog Bambra shares her insights on how location really is a matter of life and death…

Clare Bambra

Clare Bambra

In 1842, the English social reformer Edwin Chadwick documented a 30-year discrepancy between the life expectancy of men in the poorest social classes and the gentry.

He also found a North-South health divide with people from all social classes faring better in the rural South than in the industrial North.

Today, these inequalities persist.People in the most affluent areas of the United Kingdom, such as Kensington and Chelsea, can expect to live 14 years longer than that those in the poorest areas, such as Glasgow or Blackpool.

Men and women in the North of England will, on average die 2 years earlier than those in the South. Scottish people also suffer a health penalty with the highest mortality rates in Western Europe. Continue reading ‘Where you live can kill you’

“I don’t see scholarship and activism as distinct” – Plenary at the ASA highlights need for activism, resistance among scholars

Fresh from the American Sociological Association annual conference in Seattle, author and academic Jessie Daniels questions whether there should be a distinction between scholarship and activism or whether the time for retreat to the academic ivory tower is well and truly over….

Daniels_headshot2Academic sociologists sat in silence, many openly wept, as a video of a macabre scene in an American jail played in the plenary session of the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in Seattle on Saturday.

The video, pulled from a surveillance camera, shows five people covered head to toe in white protective jumpsuits, similar to cleanroom suits in semiconductor factories. The people in the white suits surround a naked, slightly built, Black woman, and with steady deliberation, end her life.

“Black women are never seen as damsels in distress,” Kimberle Crenshaw, critical race scholar and law professor at UCLA and Columbia, explained. “Rather, we are seen as something that must be controlled.” Continue reading ‘“I don’t see scholarship and activism as distinct” – Plenary at the ASA highlights need for activism, resistance among scholars’

Does social mobility leave us nowhere to go?

Graeme Atherton, author of ‘The Success Paradox: why we need a holistic theory of social mobility’ and director of the National Education Opportunities Network (NEON), the professional organisation for access to Higher Education (HE) in England. 

In today’s guest blog Graeme suggests the broken contract of ‘social mobility’ expected in the US and UK lies at the base of the attraction felt by many towards the anti-establishment messages delivered by the likes of Donald Trump and Brexit…

AthertonStagnating social mobility in both the UK and the US is well documented.

The stifling of opportunity for many to move up the economic ladder, and to bequeath such chances to their children has been apparent some time now in the UK and US. Internationally comparative research shows that compared to countries such as Canada and Sweden, British and American children are significantly more likely to have their income dictated by what their parents earn.

This apparent stagnation in social mobility is now beginning to shape not just the views of the policymakers but also the voters. The emergence of the unlikely anti-establishment triumvirate of Trump, Corbyn and Sanders owes much to the frustration people feel regarding the opportunities available to them. The Brexit vote, while a consequence of a conflation of factors coming together, undoubtedly was to some extent an expression of this frustration. Continue reading ‘Does social mobility leave us nowhere to go?’

As pension ages rise, what are our prospects for working longer?

In March of this year the UK government began its long-term review of state pension ages, with a number of commentators predicting large increases in the age of eligibility. David Lain, author of Reconstructing Retirement, sets the context for this review by considering wider changes to retirement policy.

David Lain 4It is commonly said that retirement is changing, with people increasingly expecting to do some form of paid work after ‘retirement’ age.

Sara Rix from AARP, for example, reports perceptions from the US that Baby Boomers will ‘reinvent and/or revolutionise retirement… they will… combine work and leisure in new and more rewarding ways’.

Increasing employment

In reality, however, it is arguably governments that most want us to ‘rethink’ retirement. In my view UK and US governments are actually seeking to reconstruct retirement, by increasing employment at age 65+ and dissolving the notion fixed retirement ages. They are doing this in two ways. Continue reading ‘As pension ages rise, what are our prospects for working longer?’

What will happen to UK immigrants after Brexit?

Academic and Policy Press author Jill Rutter recently answered this question in her blog which was originally posted on the Integration Hub and then again in Newsweek.  Below we’ve published a tantalising taster of her thoughts on the matter for you and if you’d like to read more why not check out the full article on Newsweek here.

Jill Rutter

Jill Rutter

With such an intense focus on immigration policy—determining who can enter and stay in the U.K.—there is a danger that integration, and what happens to migrants after they arrive in the U.K., will be forgotten.

But the referendum result also raises many questions about the future direction of integration policy. It shows clearly that debates about integration play out differently in the different parts of the U.K.

Some of the strongest support for Leave came from the towns and villages of the Fens, the agricultural heart of England, with four of the top ten biggest Leave votes coming from this area. The Fens are a major producer of cereals and vegetables, which support a large food packing and processing industry. The intensification of agriculture and changes to food  production and consumption patterns—particularly ‘just-in-time production’ for supermarkets—require a large, but flexible labor supply, now increasingly made up of EU migrants, many of them agency workers. Staff turnover in businesses that use agency workers makes it difficult for friendships to be forged between migrants and non-migrants……Continue reading by clicking here

 

Moving on up and getting on [FC]Jill Rutter’s latest book Moving up and getting on: Migration integration and social cohesion can be purchased here from the Policy Press website for special ‘Understanding Brexit‘ 50% discounted price £12.49.

Jill Rutter is Head of Research and Policy at the Family and Childcare Trust and Vice-Chair of the Migration Museum Project. Previously she worked at the Refugee Council and at London Metropolitan University. From 2007-2009 she was based at Institute for Public Policy Research, one of the UK’s largest think tanks, where she led its work on migrant integration. A political blogger and media commentator, this is her first book that addresses broader community relations.

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