Social Welfare

Newman, Janet (2015). Social Welfare. In: Bevir, Mark and Rhodes, R.A.W. eds. Routledge Handbook of Interpretive Political Science. Routledge, pp. 440–451.



In this chapter I set out to show something of the contested place of interpretive methods in social policy. It traces a number of different ways of engaging with the relationship between knowledge and power. In each case I refer to studies that exemplify a particular approach. Towards the end of the chapter I show how emerging trends across the social sciences are taking us beyond a narrow focus on meaning by engaging with questions of materiality, embodiment, emotions and affect. These, I suggest, mark the limits of interpretivism, while also offering the possibility of its enrichment. Finally I trace the uneasy relationship between interpretivism and the traditions of social policy research that seek to speak directly to power by offering ‘scientific’ data that might be viewed as a legitimate basis for policymaking or policy evaluation.

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