Introduction: Rethinking social policy through devolution

Mooney, Gerry; Scott, Gill and Williams, Charlotte (2006). Introduction: Rethinking social policy through devolution. Critical Social Policy, 26(3) pp. 483–497.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0261018306065605

Abstract

This paper argues both that devolution is central to our understanding of developments in social policy in the contemporary UK and that social policy is a key means through which we can develop a critical understanding of the process of devolution itself. Much of the devolved powers available to the governments in Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff centre on social policy innovation and practice. Devolution was widely welcomed as opening up the potential for the development of radically different social policies. However, the discussion of devolution has been largely dominated by an approach that focuses on institutional and/or organizational differences marginalizing, in the process, the wider social relations of welfare around which social policy is organized. In bringing the study of devolution into the heartland of social policy analysis, it is argued that we can begin to develop a more critically informed appreciation of social policy across the entire devolved UK. Through critical social policy analysis we can both evaluate and explain the complex interrelations between devolved governance and the continuing reproduction of inequalities and social divisions throughout the UK.

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