When we catch a bus, visit a doctor, borrow a book from the library or enrol in a course we benefit from the social policies of government. Talking Policy explains how the myriad programs and services we take for granted are developed and delivered, and how this fits into the political process.
There is a human and political aspect to social policy-making; it's not all rational solutions to measurable problems. The authors explain how issues come to be defined as social problems, and offer an account of the historical development of social policy and the welfare state in Australia. They also outline the competing political and philosophical ideas which influence the different ways in which governments respond to social inequality and needs in the community.
With detailed case studies from variety of areas of social policy making, Talking Policy is a valuable introduction to this complex and important field.
'Talking Policy is an informative, insightful book that is also absorbing and challenging.'
Lois Bryson, Emeritus Professor, University of Newcastle
'With a commitment to reinvigorate policy debate, the authors make a convincing case that at its heart policy-making is about competing ethical visions, that ideas count, and that words serve as tools in this political and contested activity.'
Associate Professor, Carol Bacchi, University of Adelaide
Table of Contents
PART A: Thinking about social policy
1: Theorising social policy
2: The Australian welfare state: Compared and contrasted
3: History Matters
4: Australian liberalism: Ideas at work in Australian social policy
5: Inequality and the Australian welfare state
6: Poverty, ethics and social policy
PART B: Making policy
7: State organisations and social policy making
Case study: Mandatory sentencing, the nation-state and international law 1991-2004
8: Putting the social into policy: policy making communities
Case study: Talking about drugs: Chroming, the press and policy making
9: Talking of metaphors and policy making
Case study: Policy change and metaphor - the case of university fees
Conclusion: On truth, the state and social policy
Judith Bessant is Professor, Rob Watts is Professor and Tony Dalton is Associate Professor in the School of Social Science and Planning at RMIT University, Melbourne. Paul Smyth is Professorial Fellow in Social Policy at the University of Melbourne.