2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the SPA. To celebrate this milestone we have commissioned 50 blogs from leading experts in the field. We will release these blogs on a weekly basis.

Fifty Blogs for fifty years

“Social policy matters. Rigorous, independent, robust study of it matters, as does teaching the next generation to be more policy-literate. At 50 the SPA is as important to all of these as ever, helping to develop, integrate and safeguard the subject and its members and contribute to better social policies.” (50 words to mark 50 years, Adrian Sinfield)


  • An elderly couple symbolise the process of ageing.
    50th Anniversary Blog Series

    No 12: The neglect of ageing

    by Alan Walker Social policy has neglected ageing and, as a result, it has vacated what should have been a leading role in responding to one of the biggest challenges facing the world. This neglect has also reinforced, rather than critically demolished, the official national [...]
  • The National Health Service (NHS) launched in 1948 is a cornerstone of the post-war British welfare state.
    50th Anniversary Blog Series

    No 11: Why welfare is a common good

    by Pete Alcock My summer reading this year included a new biography of Clement Attlee, leader of the post-war Labour administration generally credited with the introduction of the British welfare state — Citizen Clem by John Bew. He makes the point that Attlee himself, though [...]
  • Food poverty and Christmas appeals for foodbanks are up this year. The UK needs systemic change.
    50th Anniversary Blog Series

    No 10: Where next for foodbank use?

    by Kayleigh Garthwaite Tuesday 28 November was the launch of the London Evening Standard’s Christmas appeal, ‘Help a Hungry Child’. Pages 8, 9, 10 and 11 were devoted to the issue. The Felix Project is a partner in the campaign, an organisation which “collects fresh, [...]

From the Fifty-For-Fifty Series

50th Anniversary Blog Series

No 8: Universal Credit: A benefits system to increase debt

by Steve Iafrati Narratives explaining poverty as caused by personal failings and poor decisions are nothing new. The characterisation of the likeable but foolish Mr Micawber in Dickens’ David Copperfield has given way to a […]

What is social policy

The Social Policy Association (SPA) is the UK’s professional association for teachers, researchers, students and practitioners of social policy. We promote social policy in teaching and learning and seek to advance the role of research in policy making, practice and wider public debates.

The Social Policy Association supports Discover Society: Measured – Factual – Critical


Joining the UK Social Policy Association

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The SPA provides a forum for the exchange and dissemination of ideas, research and perspectives about pressing national and global social challenges and issues.

Membership of the SPA brings a wide range of benefits, including:

  • Free subscription to the Journal of Social PolicySocial Policy and Society and  Social Policy Review
  • Access to networks and events.
  • Discounts on subscriptions to other leading academic journals
  • Discounted rates for our annual conference
  • Reciprocal arrangements with other learned societies
  • The opportunity to apply to our various grants scheme

For further details, including membership rates, click here

Join the SPA

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Click here to join the Social Policy Association

Our Journals



ISSN: 0047-2794 (Print), 1469-7823 (Online) The Journal of Social Policy carries high quality articles on all aspects of social policy in an international context. It places particular emphasis upon articles which seek to contribute to […]

SPA Publications

In Defence of Welfare 2

In Defence of Welfare began in 2010 as a response to this government’s first Major Spending Review. Put together by the Social Policy Association, it was an attempt to anticipate the impact of such cuts [...]

In Defence of Welfare 1

In Defence of Welfare was published in early 2011 and brings together responses from social policy experts to a range of different aspects of the Coalition government’s planned reforms of – and cuts to – [...]

SPA Guidelines on Research Ethics

The purpose of these Guidelines on Research Ethics is to provide a framework to help members of the Social Policy Association (SPA) identify and address the different kinds of ethical issues which may arise in [...]

Defining research quality in social policy

Defining ‘Quality’ in Social Policy Research: Views, perceptions and a framework for discussion by Saul Becker, Alan Bryman and Joe Sempik. This report presents the findings from an innovative mixed methods study of over 250 [...]

Experiences of REF Impact Pilots

The Higher Education Funding Councils have proposed that the impact of research should form part of the forthcoming Research Excellence Framework (REF). Because the assessment of research impact is a new endeavour, the approach and [...]

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