Some of the main areas of social policy include wellbeing and welfare, the economy and business, poverty reduction, education, crime and criminal justice, equality of opportunity and access to services, safety and security, employment and unemployment, living conditions, pensions, health care, housing, , social care, family policy and child protection, social exclusion, immigration, citizenship, planning and development, energy, conservation, foreign policy and animal rights.
Social policy normally evolves in response to changes in society (political forces and stakeholder interests, demographics, social pressures, social norms,economic conditions, etc.). What if policy formulation was more science-based while still operating within a democratic framework (e.g. informed by scientific findings in social science, by testing hypotheses about the impacts of different policies on different groups, and assessing in detail both the intended and unintended consequences)? This would make policy less based on ideology and speculation and more based on evidence.
In the UK, the Behavioural Insights Team – a spin-off from the cabinet office, and organisations such as CaSP and CUSPE are doing just this. These postings explore policy issues and approaches to policy formulation, often questioning some of the fundamental assumptions about how we live as a society.
Society can drive you mad
‘Society Can Drive You Mad’ shows why it is important to understand wellbeing in the individual and how society often undermines it. It shows why we need a better understanding of wellbeing and control.
Policy regulates behaviour
‘Policy regulates behaviour’ reveals how decision-making in the cabinet office takes place. Far from being a structured or scientific process it is mainly influenced by factors like how easy it is to implement, who is shouting the loudest, and whether it can be supported by a credible story.
The new economics (radio play)
‘The new economics’ is an experimental radio play set in 2050 as the wellbeing index climbs through 10,000. It’s cast of characters, including a modified virtual ‘upload’ of David Cameron, are mainly played by synthetic voices.
Can citizens make good decisions
‘Can citizens make good decisions’ looks at ways in which we might assess whether citizens can usefully participate in political decision making.
Twelve radical policies
‘Twelve radical policies’ was written shortly after Theresa May became prime-minister in July 2016 and made her speech about the need for greater social justice. They say a week is a long time in politics! A general election later, judge for yourself whether she has created greater social justice, let alone moved towards the 12 radical policies suggested at that time.
Who’s to blame?
‘Who’s to blame?’ considers how we might increasingly turn our attention to notions of blame, equality and legal/moral responsibility as artificial intelligence systems increasing encroach on the traditional job market.
‘True Value’ considers how current systems of economics and finance distort our notions of value and, in many ways, prevent us seeing and maximising ‘true value’
It doesn’t end with Grenfell – Accountability and Power
‘It doesn’t end with Grenfell’ looks at how accountability and responsibility have become diluted in the modern global economy, separating consequence from action in many areas of life, such as company regulation and customer services.
UK Industrial Strategy
‘A UK Industrial Strategy was published in November 2017. This posting looks briefly at what it contains and is generally supportive of its intentions and approach, but does it go far enough and, in relation to productivity, it has it all wrong.
What’s your position?
Positioning theory illuminates our understanding of rights, duties, expectations and vulnerabilities. It addresses the dynamics of power and control and is a potent tool for understanding the self, the individual in the context of others, relationships, and social institutions. It even transcends the distinction between people and objects and has profound implications for the development of artificial intelligence.