Skip to main content Accessibility help

Rethinking Social Policy and Society

  • Christopher Deeming (a1)


Political and administrative processes are leading to collectively undesirable and intolerable societal outcomes in the advanced liberal democracies, as policymakers seek to address social issues in the design and implementation of new social policies that actively govern conduct. Behavioural regulation is the order of the day. For scholars interested in the development of social policy and the idea of a society as a whole, it is timely to begin the revaluation of the very notion of social policy and society beyond the ‘active’ neoliberal policy paradigm. Here we are particularly concerned with the ends and means of the coercive policy instruments and the active ethical issues arising from their use.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Rethinking Social Policy and Society
      Available formats

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Rethinking Social Policy and Society
      Available formats

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Rethinking Social Policy and Society
      Available formats


This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Hide All
Abbott, T. (2012) A Strong Australia: The Values, Directions and Policy Priorities of the Next Coalition Government, Barton, ACT: Liberal Party of Australia.
AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) (2010) Evaluation of Income Management in the Northern Territory, Occasional Paper No. 34, Canberra, ACT: FaHCSIA.
Altman, J. C. (2008) ‘Submission to the Northern Territory Emergency Response Review’, CAEPR Topical Issue, 10, Canberra, ACT: Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, Australian National University.
Australian Government (1994) Working Nation: The White Paper on Employment and Growth, Canberra, ACT: Australian Government Printing Service.
Australian Government (2008) Northern Territory Emergency Response: One Year On, Canberra, ACT: Australian Government.
Australian Government (2014) Job Seeker Compliance Data June 2014, Canberra, ACT: Department of Employment.
Bacchi, C. (2009) Analysing Policy: What's the Problem Represented to Be?, Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson.
Behrendt, L. (2010) ‘Closing the evidence gap’, in Davis, M. and Lyons, M. (eds.), More Than Luck: Ideas Australia Needs Now, Sydney: CPD, pp. 117–28.
Belchamber, G. (2013) ‘To fix a flaw and fix the floor: unemployment insurance for Australia’, in Smyth, P. and Buchanan, J. (eds.), Inclusive Growth in Australia: Social Policy as Economic Investment, Sydney: Allen & Unwin, pp.193204.
Bessant, J. (2000) ‘Civil conscription or reciprocal obligation: the ethics of “work-for-the-dole”’, Australian Journal of Social Issues, 35, 1, 1533.
Bonoli, G. (2013) The Origins of Active Social Policy: Labour Market and Childcare Policies in a Comparative Perspective, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Bray, R. J., Gray, M., Hand, K., Bradbury, B., Eastman, C. and Katz, I. (2012) Evaluating New Income Management in the Northern Territory: First Evaluation Report, Sydney: UNSW.
Brodkin, E. Z. and Marston, G. (eds.) (2013) Work and the Welfare State: Street-Level Organizations and Workfare Politics, Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.
Brotherhood of St Laurence (2014) Australian Youth Unemployment 2014: Snapshot, Victoria: Brotherhood of St Laurence.
Carney, T. R. (1984) Child Welfare Practice and Legislation Review, Melbourne: Government Printer.
Carpenter, M., Speeden, S., Griffin, C. and Walters, N. (2007) ‘Capabilities, human rights and the challenge to workfare’, in Carpenter, M., Belinda, F. and Speeden, S. (eds.), Beyond the Workfare State: Labour Markets, Equality and Humans Rights, Bristol: The Policy Press, pp. 159–84.
Cass, B. (1988) Income Support for the Unemployed in Australia: Towards a More Active System, Issues Paper No. 4, Social Security Review, Canberra, ACT: Department of Social Security.
Clarke, J. (2004) ‘Dissolving the public realm? The Logics and limits of neo-liberalism’, Journal of Social Policy, 33, 1, 2748.
Concerned Australians (2011) Cuts to Welfare Payments for School Non-Attendance Requested or Imposed?, Melbourne: Concerned Australians.
Cooper, N. (2011) A Review of Australian Government Labour Market Policies since 1945, Canberra, ACT: HC Coombs Policy Forum, Australian National University.
Cox, E. (2011) ‘Evidence-free policy making? The case of income management’, Journal of Indigenous Policy, 12, 198.
Dean, H. and Rogers, R. (2004) ‘Popular discourses of dependency, responsibility and rights’, in Dean, H. (ed.), The Ethics of Welfare: Human Rights, Dependency and Responsibility, Bristol: The Policy Press, pp. 6888.
Dean, H. (2014) ‘Life-first welfare and the scope for a “eudemonic ethic” of social security’, in Keune, M. and Serrano, A. (eds.), Deconstructing Flexicurity and Developing Alternative Approaches: Towards New Concepts and Approaches for Employment and Social Policy, Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 152–72.
Deeming, C. (2013) ‘Trials and tribulations: the “use” (and “misuse”) of evidence in public policy’, Social Policy and Administration, 47, 4, 359–81.
Deeming, C. (2014) ‘Foundations of the workfare state – reflections on the political transformation of the welfare state in Britain’, Social Policy and Administration, doi: 10.1111/spol.12096.
Deeming, C. and Smyth, P. (2015) ‘Social investment after neoliberalism: policy paradigms and political platforms’, Journal of Social Policy, 44, 2, 297318.
Elizabeth, V. and Larner, W. (2009) ‘Racializing the “Social Development” state: investing in children in Aotearoa/New Zealand’, Social Politics, 16, 1, 132–58.
Etzioni, A. (1999) The Limits of Privacy, New York, NY: Basic Books.
FaHCSIA (Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) (2010) Evaluation of the Child Protection Scheme of Income Management and Voluntary Income Management Measures in Western Australia, Barton, ACT: FaHCSIA.
Gilbert, N. (2004) Transformation of the Welfare State: The Silent Surrender of Public Responsibility, Oxford and New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Goerres, A. and Prinzen, K. (2012) ‘Can we improve the measurement of attitudes towards the welfare state? A constructive critique of survey instruments with evidence from focus groups’, Social Indicators Research, 109, 3, 515–34.
Hall, P. A. (1993) ‘Policy paradigms, social learning, and the state: the case of economic policymaking in Britain’, Comparative Politics, 25, 3, 275–96.
Hawkesworth, M. (2001) ‘Workfare and the imposition of discipline’, in Schaff, K. (ed.), Philosophy and the Problems of Work: A Reader, Lanham, MD: Rowan & Littlefield, pp. 267–81.
Herscovitch, A. and Stanton, D. (2008) ‘History of social security in Australia’, Family Matters, 80, 5160.
Higgins, V. (2014) ‘Australia's developmental trajectory: neoliberal or not?’, Dialogues in Human Geography, 4, 2, 161–4.
Jones, R., Pykett, J. and Whitehead, M. (2013) Changing Behaviours: On the Rise of the Psychological State, Cheltenham and Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar.
King, D. (1995a) Actively Seeking Work? The Politics of Unemployment and Welfare Policy in the United States and Great Britain, Chicago: University of Chicago.
King, D. (1995b) Separate and Unequal: Black Americans and the US Federal Government, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
King, D. (1999) In the Name of Liberalism: Illiberal Social Policy in the United States and Britain, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Kirby, P. E. F. (1985) Report of the Committee of Inquiry into Labour Market Programs, Canberra, ACT: Australian Government Publishing Service.
Lodemel, I. and Moreira, A. (eds.) (2014) Activation or Workfare? Governance and the Neo-Liberal Convergence, Oxford and New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Martin, C. J. (2004) ‘Reinventing welfare regimes: employers and the implementation of active social policy’, World Politics, 57, 1, 3969.
McDonald, C. and Marston, G. (2005) ‘Workfare as welfare: governing unemployment in the advanced liberal state’, Critical Social Policy, 25, 3, 374401.
Mead, L. M. (1986) Beyond Entitlement: The Social Obligations of Citizenship, New York, NY: Free Press.
Mead, L. M. (1997) The New Paternalism: Supervisory Approaches to Poverty, Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.
Mead, L. M. and Beem, C. (eds.) (2005) Welfare Reform and Political Theory, New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.
Murray, M. J. and Forstater, M. (2013) The Job Guarantee: Toward True Full Employment, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Nutley, S. M., Walter, I. and Davies, H. (2009) ‘Past, present, and possible futures for evidence-based policy’, in Argyrous, G. (ed.), Evidence for Policy and Decision-Making: A Practical Guide, Sydney: UNSW Press, pp. 123.
O’Malley, P. (1998) ‘Indigenenous governance’, in Dean, M. and Hindess, B. (eds.), Governing Australia: Studies in Contemporary Rationalities of Government, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 156–72.
OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) (2005) Extending Opportunities: How Active Social Policy Can Benefit Us All, Paris: OECD.
OECD (2013a) ‘Activating jobseekers: lessons from seven OECD countries’, OECD Employment Outlook 2013, Paris: OECD Publishing,
OECD (2013b) Activating Jobseekers: How Australia Does It, Paris: OECD.
OECD (2013c) ‘Public expenditure on active labour market policies’, Employment and Labour Markets: Key Tables from OECD, No. 9, doi: 10.1787/lmpxp-table-2013-1-en.
Oliver, A. (2013) ‘From nudging to budging: using behavioural economics to inform public sector policy’, Journal of Social Policy, 42, 4, 685700.
Packwood, A. (2002) ‘Evidence-based policy: rhetoric and reality’, Social Policy and Society, 1, 3, 267‒72.
Panel Discussion with Robert A. Dahl Claus Offe and Alain Touraine (1987) Scandinavian Political Studies, 10, 3: 223237.
Parker, S. and Fopp, R. (2005) ‘Mutual obligation? Regulating by supervision and surveillance in Australian income support policy’, Surveillance and Society, 3, 1, 107–28.
Peck, J. and Theodore, N. (2000) ‘“Work first”: workfare and the regulation of contingent labour markets’, Cambridge Journal of Economics, 24, 1, 119–38.
Plant, R. (2012) The Neo-liberal State, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Productivity Commission (2002) Independent Review of the Job Network, Report. No. 21, Canberra, ACT: The Productivity Commission.
Proudfoot, F. and Habibis, D. (2013) ‘Separate worlds: a discourse analysis of mainstream and Aboriginal populist media accounts of the Northern Territory Emergency Response in 2007’, Journal of Sociology, doi: 10.1177/1440783313482368.
Quinlan, F. (2010) A Stronger, Fairer Safety Net? Income Management and the Future of Australia's Income Support System, Curtin, ACT: Catholic Social Services Australia.
Reference Group on Welfare Reform (2000) Participation Support for a More Equitable Society: Final Report, Canberra, ACT: Department of Family and Community Services.
Rowson, J. (2011) Transforming Behaviour Change: Beyond Nudge and Neuromania, London: RSA.
Saunders, P. (2002) ‘Mutual obligation, participation and popularity: social security reform in Australia’, Journal of Social Policy, 31, 1, 2138.
Standing, G. (2014) A Precariat Charter: From Denizens to Citizens, London and New York, NY: Bloomsbury.
Struyven, L. and Steurs, G. (2005) ‘Design and redesign of a quasi-market for the reintegration of jobseekers: empirical evidence from Australia and the Netherlands’, Journal of European Social Policy, 15, 3, 211–29.
Thaler, R. and Sunstein, C. (2009) Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
van Berkel, R. and Borghi, V. (2008) ‘Review article: the governance of activation’, Social Policy and Society, 7, 3, 393402.
Wacquant, L. (2010) ‘Crafting the Neoliberal State: Workfare, Prisonfare, and Social Insecurity’, Sociological Forum, 25, 2, 197220.
White, S. (2003) The Civic Minimum: On the Rights and Obligations of Economic Citizenship, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Wild, R. and Anderson, P. (2007) Ampe Akelyernemane Meke Mekarle ‘Little children are sacred’, Report of the Northern Territory Board of Inquiry into the protection of Aboriginal children from sexual abuse, Darwin: Northern Territory Government.
Wilson, S. (2013) ‘The limits of low-tax social democracy? Welfare, tax and fiscal dilemmas for Labor in government’, Australian Journal of Political Science, 48, 3, 286306.


Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Rethinking Social Policy and Society

  • Christopher Deeming (a1)


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.