Fifty Blogs for fifty years

Commissioning Editors: Kevin Farnsworth and Zoë Irving

2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the SPA. To celebrate this milestone we are commissioning 50 blogs from leading experts in the field.

If you would like to submit a blog to us, please email us (click on our names above). We will release these blogs on a weekly basis.

“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)


  • Scotland's Social Security bill holds important lessons for Westminster.
    50th Anniversary Blog Series

    No 38: What we can learn from Scotland’s approach to social security

    by Ruth Patrick Too often, we are told that welfare traps people in dependency, discouraging individuals from making the right choices, and enabling a culture of irresponsibility and inactivity. This lazy, stigmatising narrative has been mobilised to defend wave after wave of cuts to the [...]
  • What will social policy in the UK look like in 50 years? Rod Hick offers five suggestions.
    50th Anniversary Blog Series

    No 37: Social Policy’s next 50 years

    By Rod Hick The Social Policy Association’s (SPA’s) 50th anniversary blog series has demonstrated the rich variety of topics examined by social policy scholars. While some have examined contemporary policy issues, others have looked back at the past 50 years, or have sought to identify [...]
  • Though microfinance is designed to help lift the poor out of poverty, research shows that it can actually do harm when practised poorly.
    50th Anniversary Blog Series

    No 35: At harm’s length: when development bureaucracies mean business

    by Mathilde Maîtrot When she first started borrowing from Microfinance Institutions (MFIs), Naseema — a 40-year-old widow living in a small village in a northern district of Bangladesh — would get regularly upset by her credit officer’s weekly home visits. Credit officers would insult people [...]

More From our Fifty-For-Fifty Series

Dr Elke Heins explains why strong trade unions often go hand-in-hand with strong social protections.
50th Anniversary Blog Series

No 33: Trade unions and social protection – why the strength of collective organisation matters for social security

by Elke Heins The recent strikes in defence of university staff pensions have surprised many with the powerful collective action displayed by members of the University and College Union (UCU). Just as much as the […]


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

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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 [...]