Comparative Social Policy Research Group

Comparative social policy explores continuity and change in health, education and welfare provision, across a range of mostly developed countries, from a critical social perspective.

The Comparative Social Policy Research Group brings together researchers interested in the major concepts, theoretical approaches and historical and contemporary issues in social policy development. Together we explore: (1) the historical and cultural construction of contemporary formations; (2) the relationship between policy-making and enactment, including the various factors that mediate this process; and (3) how power relations, based in class, gender, ethnicity and other social divisions, shape and are shaped by social policy.

We focus especially on developed countries. For example, we explore policy responses to the challenges facing countries in Europe, where economic woes, migration and terrorism have aggravated weakening social cohesion. For many, according to Guy Standing, this is set within a period of increasingly precarious employment, and what Antony Giddens calls late-modern doubt. At the same time, populism from both left and right, religious fundamentalism and neoliberalism, which privileges market mechanisms over political process, threaten individual liberties and democratic accountability.

We promote both disciplinary and interdisciplinary research, drawing on both quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods and broader theoretical literature. Some studies are set within specific areas, for example, education policies, family policies, healthcare and health inequality, labour market policies, poverty and ageing societies in different countries. Other studies look at how social policies addressing different areas interact, shape and are shaped by the cultures and circumstances in which they occur.

We meet monthly, welcome new members, associate members from other institutions and doctoral applications.

Comparative Social Policy Research Group staff list