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Economics, Social Policy and Social Administration: The Interplay between Topics and Disciplines*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2009


The article uses a distinction between topic and discipline to argue that social administration, like economics, is characterized by both, but that social administration has the special advantage, in treating the topic of social policy, of being multi-disciplinary. An account is presented of why economics is underrepresented among the disciplines of social administration, and three important contributory roles are outlined for economics to play in the development of social administration.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1981

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14 Economists, sociologists, etc. are identified by their discipline. The discipline is identified by its theory. Hence theoreticians are ‘disciplinarians’ – in quotation marks to avoid confusion with the more usual meaning of the word. A social administrator may be a ‘disciplinarian’ in this sense or a ‘multi-disciplinarian’.

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