Social values are clearly an important influence on the development and administration of social policies. In discussions about social values, however, different political groupings use the same words but with different meanings. This article compares and contrasts ‘ideal-type’ liberal and socialist conceptions of the three social values of freedom, individualism and equality. It then goes on to discuss how far social policy reflects these differing conceptions. The conclusion drawn is that, so far as social policy is concerned, in the clashes between liberal and socialist conceptions of social values liberal values tend to emerge as dominant.
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