SPA Awards 2013

The 2013 Social Policy Association Awards ceremony was held during the Association’s Annual Conference dinner on 8 July, this year hosted by the University of Sheffield. The awards were presented by the SPA President, Sue Duncan.

There were five winners across three categories. Winners of the UK Social Policy Association (SPA) 2013 Special Recognition Award were Professor Peter Taylor-Gooby FBA OBE, Professor of Social Policy at the University of Kent; Professor Ian Gough, Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics and Emeritus Professor of Social Policy at the University of Bath; and Professor Bob Deacon, Emeritus Professor of International Social Policy at the University of Sheffield. The winner of the Best Newcomer Award was Dr. Christopher Deeming, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Bristol. And the winner of the Best Postgraduate Paper award, presented at the 2012 SPA Conference, was Emilie Whitaker, Doctoral Researcher at the University of Birmingham. Congratulations to all our winners and many thanks to all those who nominated.

Introducing the awards ceremony, SPA President Sue Duncan stated: “I’m a firm believer in encouraging both emerging talent and recognising achievement. I think it’s a very important way for any organisation to have a sense of what it is and what’s important and I think it’s very important to acknowledge those people who’ve gone the extra mile. So I think this is a very good thing the Social Policy Association does and I’m very pleased to be part of it.”

Special Recognition Award

The Special Recognition Award is made to SPA members who have retired, are due to retire, or hold an Emeritus position and marks contributions in the field to research, teaching and learning, impact on political process and discourse; and recognises the esteem in which the recipient is held. The three winners of the Special Recognition Award this year were Professor Peter Taylor-Gooby, Professor Ian Gough, and Professor Bob Deacon.

Introducing the winners of this award, SPA President Sue Duncan said: “Special Recognition Awards are for those who have had a distinguished career in social policy. The winners of these awards have made a sustained contribution to research and research impact, to teaching and developing the subject and generally by acting as good citizens and ambassadors for the discipline, for example by serving on editorial boards and committees and the like”.

Professor Peter Taylor-Gooby FBA OBE, Professor of Social Policy at the University of Kent.

Professor Peter Taylor-GoobyPresenting the award, SPA President Sue Duncan stated: “Peter has made a very significant contribution to research, teaching and importantly to the development and standing of the discipline of social policy. He has given generously of his time to the social policy community, and anybody who has been associated with the REF or its predecessor, the RAE, will recognise the huge contribution he’s made there. His research contribution has also been considerable covering among other things human needs approaches to state welfare and the role of structural constraints on social actions. His comparative work has made a contribution to social policy across Europe. He has been a key player in political debate on social policy and has lectured widely both here and abroad. He is a well-deserved recipient of the Special Recognition Award.”

Receiving the award, Peter responded: “Thanks very much for the award, I’m delighted! Always told OBE stands for Other Buggers’ Efforts, so perhaps appropriate to mention some of the people with whom I’ve collaborated over the years, including: Jonathon Bradshaw; Jen Dale; Ian Gough; Raymond Plant; Paul Beadle; Stefan Svallfors; Elim Papadakis; Ken Judge; Vic George; Robin Lawson; Ray Pahl; Hugh Bochel; Chris Pickvance; Ian Gordon; Hartley Dean; Mike Calnan; Sue Silvester; Graham Manley; Giuliano Bonoli; Anne Daguerre; Trine Larsen; M Munro; G Parker; Andreas Cebulla; Johannes Kananen; Charlotte Hastie; Jens Zinn; Andrew Wallace; Rosemary Martin; Steffen Mau; Ann Power; Andrew Gamble; Pat Thane; Tariq Modood; Gerry Stoker; Andrew Gamble; Ed Waite; Trude Sundberg; Francis Green; and of course the RAE 2008 and REF 2014 panels. And many many others – thanks to all of you!”

Professor Ian Gough, Visiting Professor (LSE) and Emeritus Professor of Social Policy at the University of Bath.

Professor Ian GoughPresenting the award, SPA President Sue Duncan said: “Ian’s work has been described as being at the cutting edge of social policy for four decades and has led social policy thinking in areas as diverse as the political economy of welfare, human needs, global and comparative social policy, and social policy in developing countries. He is one of the most frequently cited scholars, both here and abroad, and his work ‘the political economy of the welfare state’ has sold over 25,000 copies. He has provided advice to a list of policy makers too long to mention, including the World Bank and various government departments. His current work on social policy and climate change is again informing thinking internationally.”

Receiving his award, Ian said: “This means a lot to me so thank you very much for this award. I was at the first meeting of the Social Administration Association in Nottingham in 1967. I was sitting there by myself and Richard Titmus came up to me and introduced himself and sat and we talked for 20 or 30 minutes and it was very inspiring and I hope that some of that spirit lives on in the association today. How much has changed since then? Social policy is both an area of government and practice, and it’s also an area of study. If we look at it as an area of government and practice, today’s outlook in the West looks bleak; I know this isn’t the case across the world, in East Asia and Latin America it’s a period of optimism in social policy… This is a period of transition and of crisis, which is pretty much unpredictable. For social policy as a study it is a very exciting time… My view is that Social policy should start to get more integrated with economic policy and with environmental policy. Only that way can we really get to grips with the challenge we face. I was very glad to shift from economics to social policy. My first experience was in economics and the appeal of economics is great, but that framework becomes paging; I was so pleased to move into social policy which was much more ethical and flexible and messy, just like life itself. So I’m very pleased to be here to receive this award today.”

Professor Bob Deacon, Emeritus Professor of International Social Policy at the University of Sheffield.

Professor Bob DeaconPresenting the award, SPA President Sue Duncan stated: “Bob has made an important contribution to the field of social policy over four decades. He’s been described as a conviction academic who has worked to combine policy analysis with practice and to internationalise the outlook of social policy. He influenced social work practice through writing and editing a radical social work journal and was a founding editor of Critical Social Policy, which threw the user and activist perspective into social policy, well ahead of his time. He pioneered the study of communist and post-communist social policy, global social policy and more recently world regional social policy, and has published widely in all these areas. He has also made a significant contribution to the discipline, for example through teaching and developing students.”

Receiving the award, Bob said “I was taught by Professor Titmus in 1965 and shared his commitment to welfare and ever since then I’ve primarily defined myself as a social policy scholar, and therefore to be awarded a recognition by my own discipline is indeed the highest honour. My claim to fame might be not so much more recent involvement in the SPA but history. I was at the founding meeting of the SPA and at the second meeting of the Social Admin Association which predated it, the 1968 Social Admin Association.” Professor Deacon then pulled out a set of foolscap minutes from the 1968 Social Administration Association meeting and brought attention to the debate then around journal content and orientation. He continued: “Really the debate about journals and their content and their orientation is really quite important. Critical Social Policy did inject the importance of political economy to understanding social policy; European Social Policy injected a broad comparative approach into the subject matter. And then Global Social Policy has begun to develop the argument that if you want to understand the limits and possibilities of national social policy you have to understand the constraints that global economy frame that within. So my hope is that the upcoming generation of social policy scholars does understand the importance of global political economy as both creating constraints upon, and possibilities for, realising Titmus’ commitments to welfare.”

Best Newcomer Award

Dr. Christopher DeemingThe award for Best Newcomer is made to a lecturer/researcher who is within five years of their first post-graduate post, and who is judged to have made a significant early contribution to the field of social policy. The winner of this year’s Best Newcomer award was Dr. Christopher Deeming, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Bristol.

Presenting the award, SPA President Sue Duncan commented “I firmly believe that the SPA needs to nurture its rising stars. The winner of this award graduated from Bristol with a PhD in 2008. Since then he has made a strong contribution to the field of social policy; he has published more than 15 journal articles, and produced some important and thought provoking work on the link between welfare and wellbeing. This has been groundbreaking both intellectually and methodologically. Again, he has challenged the way we think about an important issue. And on top of that he has also found time to be an active member of the SPA and so has also acted as an ambassador for his discipline. Social policy analysis needs people like this. So I have pleasure in announcing the winner of the award is Christopher Deeming.”

Receiving the award, Christopher said “I am very pleased to receive this award from the SPA; I obviously do so in difficult circumstances in the state of social policy with, it seems, neo-liberalism on the rise, getting stronger after the global financial crisis, there also appears to be a crisis of social democracy, perhaps within social policy itself, certainly with the erosion of social welfare services, and the erosion of collective social services serving the human good. Worrying also, obviously, is the change of public attitude to welfare as well, particularly in this country. So it’s very challenging times, very difficult circumstances. Going forward I think I would say there is some grounds for optimism, particularly with collaborative working across disciplines with research calls like the law face call encouraging more cooperation between countries, more cooperation between disciplines… I think this is a good thing and I think there needs to be more unity in social policy and across the social sciences to actually challenge some of these normative assumptions about welfare and to take on the new right… So my research interest is looking at the determinants of wellbeing within nations and between nations and that’s what I am going to keep plugging away at over the next few years.”

Best Postgraduate Paper Award

Emilie WhitakerThis award was won by Emilie Whitaker, Doctoral Researcher at the University of Birmingham for her paper presented at the 2012 SPA Conference in York, entitled ‘Finding Aristotle on the frontline: Phronesis and social work’.

Presenting the award, SPA President Sue Duncan, said “the winning paper caused some controversy among the judges, not because we disagreed about the merit of the paper but because it stimulated thinking. We didn’t all fully agree with the analysis but we did agree that this was an original and valid theoretical reflection. The paper sets out to apply the concept of phronesis and sense making to how social workers make decisions. Social policy needs people who can look at the world differently, and we don’t all have to agree with them all of the time. We need people who can stimulate debate and take our thinking forward. The judges were unanimous in their view that the paper showed great promise.”

Receiving the award, Emilie thanked the judges and her supervisors before saying: “three friends, including myself, had an interest in the notion of a phronetic social science. We were looking for a supportive yet safe outlet to have those kind of discussions. Supported by our department we obviously found out about the SPA [conference] and the fact that they run a postgraduate stream, which we felt was absolutely perfect for us, an enabling space, so we put in and we were successful and the panel itself was wonderful. I do feel these exploratory theoretical discussions when you’re a postgrad, in terms of meeting people from outside your own department, your own university, can really only happen when you’ve got enabling creative spaces. So I just really want to say please continue to do that to the SPA; I got a lot out of it, it really built my confidence and I really met some great people. So thank you very much.”