SPA at 50

“The Social Policy Association was established in 1967 as the Social Administration Association and became the Social Policy Association in 1987.
To commemorate this, we are holding an anniversary reception in October, hosted by Baroness Ruth Lister, our President, at the Cholmondeley Room and Terrace, the House of Lords.
We hope you will be able to come and join us to recognise and celebrate the achievements of the SPA over these 50 years, as we look forward to the future, with other colleagues, people and groups who have supported the SPA.
Further information will follow, but for the moment please save the date:  Tuesday 17th October 2017, 18.30 to 20.30.”

SPA Grant Awards

Since September 2016, we have funded the following:


Sarah Brooks-Wilson and John Horton – Children and young people’s social policy journeys: Mobilities, services (in)accessibilities

This one day conference aims to raise new questions for social policy and practice through the lens of children and young people’s journey making inequalities.


Joan Abbas, Joe Chrisp, David Young, Kate Summers, Ellie Suh, Kerris Cooper & Eileen Alexander

A launch event for the’ Money, Security Social Policy Network’ to take place in November 2017.


Matthew Donnaghue

The award will support delegates attending a one day colloquium in September 2017 entitled ‘Social Cohesion in Times of Uncertainty’.


Richard Machin

To support a welfare reform summit which will discuss what known and future impacts of welfare reform can be identified at a strategic, operational and academic level.



Dierdre Duffy (Manchester Metropolitan University) – Mapping youth mental health services in England.

Recognising that youth mental health service pathways in England can be complex and unclear, the SPA grant has funded workshop activities that will be begin to map services and pathways. The workshop is for researchers and practitioners to meet together and develop further collaborative working.


Jenni Brooks (Sheffield Hallam University) – Sheffield City Region Young People’s Precarious and Placeless Labour: connecting research, policy and practice

A collaborative event connecting youth organisations, policy makers, researchers and employers to examine young people’s experiences of precarious working. The goal is to understand challenges faced by young people and engage with employers as a basis for further research and the development of an advisory group.


Keerty Nakray (Indian Social Policy Network) – Comparative and International Social Policy Theories and Methods

The grants will fund delivering workshops for PhD students and researchers to examine the links between social policy and development studies. As well as making links with the Indian Social Policy Network, the workshops will form the basis of a set of published papers.


Michael Orton (Warwick University) – Putting the security back into social security

The grant will support four half-day workshops with academics and key practitioners across Britain to stimulate new thinking about welfare and how best to move away from welfare being seen as ‘toxic’. Whilst the workshops are discussion based, there is a clear goal of creating a community of interest and ongoing dialogue.


Gideon Calder (Swansea University) and Dave Sayers (Sheffield Hallam University) – Welsh social services policy seminar

Changes in legislation and consultation regarding social services in Wales have prompted a need for dialogue between government, researchers and practitioners. In addition to ‘rapid networking’, participants will arrange future meetings to ensure ongoing dialogue. The event will not only raise the SPA’s profile with policy makers but it will also support important cross sectoral dialogue.



Indian Social Policy Network


Indian Social Policy Network 

Indian Social Policy Network (ISPN) is a scholarly association of academics and researchers who aim to deepen theory and evidence based research on social policy in the India.  A wide-range of subjects ranging from ageing, work-life balance, health, gender, childhood, adolescence and youth, employment policies, capabilities and well-being and comparative welfare studies will come within the purview of the Network.

The newly established network will aim to facilitate academic and research exchange through conferences, workshops and seminars in India and beyond.  ISPN aims to encourage the study of social policy within India and support early career academics and researchers.

Specific Objectives include:

  • Organize workshops and conferences on Indian and comparative social policy.
  • Establish International, National and Local Academic Alliances and Knowledge Networks.
  • Promote the study of Indian social policy nationally and internationally.
  • Support the development of research skills and knowledge amongst doctoral students and early career researchers in India and beyond on social policy.
  • Develop cutting-edge teaching and research material on social policy.
  • Advance the role of evidence based research in policy making, practice and wider public debates.


  • The first ever workshop in collaboration with the Social Policy Association, Development Studies Association, and Participatory Research in Asia titled “Comparative and International Social Policy Theories & Methods: Lessons for Research and Practice in India – What Does Social Policy Mean in the Indian Context? At the O.P. Jindal Global University, NCR Sonipat, Haryana.


  • A symposium ‘Poverty Reduction and Social Inclusion in a Changing India – Social Policy between Development and Growth?’ at the 2014 Social Policy Association Conference ‘Social Policy Confronting Change: Resistance, Resilience and Radicalism’, University of Sheffield, UK, July 14th-16th 2014 co-hosted by the Indian and Comparative Social Policy Network and members of Social Policy and Social Work, University of York.




Special Issues

  • Positioning Social Policy Between Development and Growth, eds. Devine, J. Kühner, S. and Nakray, K. (2015) Special Issue in Journal of International and Comparative Social Policy
  • Child Poverty in India, Special Section in Journal of South Asian Development, eds. Nakray, K. Iversen, V. and Joshi, S.


Peer-Reviewed Papers


  1. Kühner, S. and Nakray, K. (2016) India’s Emerging Social Policy Paradigm: Productive, Protective or What?, Journal of Asian Public Policy,
  2. Kühner, S. (2015) ‘Analysing the Productive and Protective Dimensions of Welfare in the Asia-Pacific: Pathways Towards Human Development and Income Equality?’, Journal of International and Comparative Social Policy, 31(2), 151-173.


To join the ISPN:

Founding Chair: Dr Keerty Nakray, Jindal Global Law School, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, NCR Delhi 131001 (




Workshop on Comparative and International Social Policy Theories and Methods, New Delhi

Workshop on Comparative and International Social Policy Theories and Methods

Advances in Research and Practice in International Development Studies and Social Policy

Three Day PhD and Early Career Academic Workshop on Social Policy in Developing Contexts

24th -26th May 2017

The workshop aims to encapsulate some of the most recent cutting-edge discussions emerging in the fields of international development studies and social policy. Traditionally, international development studies and social policy have been seen as distinct disciplines.  The major thrust of international development studies was on issues of poverty, social exclusion and social problems in developing countries whereas much of the social policy concentrated on the relative measures of poverty and social exclusion in advanced capitalist countries. Improved economic growth rates, changes in global politics, and social policy innovations found throughout the world have facilitated greater intersections between these two disciplines. Primarily, this workshop will be aimed at doctoral students and early career academics working in the fields of international development studies and social policy and will seek to create avenues for mutual engagement.


The aim is to provide participants with the opportunity to consider key issues such as ‘what is the meaning of Social Policy in a development context?’, ‘how can the disciplines of Social Policy and International Development learn from each other?’, and ‘how can both contribute to social sciences responses to global challenges?’ It will do so by:


  1. Discussing key emerging social issues in developing countries, such as human well-being, welfare, equality, capabilities, freedom and inclusive growth;
  2. Considering the relationship between newly emerging poverty reduction and welfare programmes and real-life social issues. Some relevant programmes include India’s Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Guarantee Act 2005; Brazil’s Bolsa Escola (‘school bag’) and South Africa’s Child Support Grant (CSG).

Other objectives of the workshop are to:

  1. Discuss the applicability of social policy theory and research methodology in developing countries;
  2. Examine specific concepts and issues such as child poverty, social exclusion, gender equality and civil society mobilization, in contemporary Social Policy and International Development S
  3. Introduce key methodological approaches in contemporary Social Policy and International Development Studies including debates about the merits of qualitative, quantitative and systematic mixed methods approaches.
  4. Provide an innovative theoretical and practical framework to ensure participants’ own research findings can be better used to inform policy decision-making.


The workshop has received sponsorship from the Social Policy Association and the Centre for Development Studies, University of Bath


The number of participants is restricted to 20 please secure your place early. 


Last Date for Submission of Abstracts: February 28 2017


Submission of Abstracts:


  • Abstracts should not exceed more than 1000 words.
  • It should contain details of the participant’s ongoing PhD or research details.
  • It should include the details on institutional affiliation of the author.


Please submit your abstracts for review to


Venue: Willow, Habitat World, at India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road, New Delhi-110003 (Entry from gate number 3 on Vardhman Marg)


The Registration Fee has been waivered. Participants are required to make arrangements for their own accommodation and transportation to the venue.


For communication with the local organizer and for general inquiries on how to join the Indian Social Policy Network please contact:


Organising Team:

Joe Devine is the Head of Department, Department of Social and Policy Sciences, University of Bath (UK).

Keerty Nakray is an Associate Professor at Jindal Global Law School, NCR New Delhi and a Visiting Fellow at the Feinstein International Centre, Tufts University (US).

Nick Ellison is the Head of Department of Social Policy and Social Work at University of York (UK).

Stefan Kühner obtained his Ph.D. from the Department of Social Policy and Social Work, University of York, United Kingdom. He joined Lingnan University in August 2016.

Academy of Social Sciences: Call for SPA nominations for new Fellows

The SPA is a member of the Academy of Social Sciences. In recent years we have successfully nominated a number of SPA members to become Academicians. This is a mark of distinction and denotes an outstanding contribution to the study and/or practice of social policy. The SPA can make 10 nominations per year.

We have been invited to submit nominations for the next round of selection for new Fellows.

At this stage, all we need is:

  • contact details for nominee
  • short CV (no more than 2 pages)
  • brief outline of case (academic excellence and contribution to social science)
  • your name(s) and contact details

The key criteria are: ‘a leading figure in their field and have already left a clear mark on it’ and ‘has furthered social science’

Self-nominations are not possible.

Applications should be sent to the SPA Hon. Secretary, Tina Haux (T. by Friday 29th of April 2016. All nominations will be considered by the SPA Executive. For those supported, a full application (in AcSS format) will then be finalised in discussion with the supporter(s). Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Employability Soundbites

Social Policy Association Executive members give their thoughts on how to enhance your employability as an aspiring student of social policy.

Nick Ellison: What key things do you look for in an academic application?


Anne Brunton: What one piece of advice would you give someone in the third year of their PhD?


Stefan Kuhner: When should I try to publish from my PhD?


Ben Baumberg: What do you think PhD students should know about the academic job market?


Harriet Churchill: What benefits and drawbacks are associated with a teaching position as a first post? 


Nasar Meer: What benefits and drawbacks are associated with a teaching position as a first post?


Hugh Bochel: Is conference attendance important for your career? If so, why?



‘Troubled Families’ SPA seminars

14087270645_3453006d12_zThe SPA provided funding to two postgraduate students to develop three seminars relating to the UK government’s Troubled Families Programme in the lead up to the 2015 UK General Election. These seminars were held at Durham University, Lancaster University and the LSE and were organised by Stephen Crossley, a PhD candidate at Durham University and Michael Lambert, a PhD candidate at Lancaster University.

In the aftermath of the English riots in 2011, David Cameron announced that one only had to ‘join the dot’s to work out that parenting failures were a primary cause of many young people being involved in the disturbances. He went on to say that if the ‘broken society’ was to be mended, family and parenting was the place to start, making clear his ambition to ‘turn around’ the lives of the 120,000 most ‘troubled families’ in the UK – ‘the ones that everyone in their neighbourhood knows and often avoids’. Four months later, in December 2011, the Troubled Families Programme (TFP) was launched, tasked with realising the Prime Minister’s ambition.

The seminars explored: the history of the concept of ‘troubled families’, including continuities and changes with previous constructions of the ‘underclass’ thesis; the implications for practitioners working with ‘troubled families’; and different sociological and theoretical perspectives that can be used to understand the construction of ‘troubled families’.

Presentations from the seminars are here:




Photograph courtesy of Number 10

In Defence of Welfare 2 published online

crop IDOW2In 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 to welfare on British society.

This second edition, In Defence of Welfare 2, brings together nearly fifty short pieces from a diverse range of academics, policy makers and journalists to explore the impact of those reforms at a time when a general election is looming.

Contributors to this edited collection cannot help but note the increased inequalities in income, wealth and well-being which have seemingly become firmly entrenched in society over the Coalition Government’s term of office. In Defence of Welfare 2 considers the role of conditionality, and cuts in services and benefits on peoples’ lives. It focuses on extensive inequalities in social policy including the labour market, child care provision, access to health and social care, pensions, housing and education among others. Drawing on the experiences of children, women, immigrants and the unemployed, it explores how the Government has surprisingly little understanding of how inequalities are played out in society – or how effective policy is made, developed or implemented. It demonstrates how many social policies mark a relentless attack on those who are most ‘disadvantaged’, hitting those hardest without the resources to sustain an acceptable standard of living. Instead the role of the voluntary and faith sector have been important responses to the insufficiencies of welfare with the use of food-banks expanding rapidly. At the same time those most privileged in society continue to benefit from Coalition policies with the gap between those at the very top and the rest growing rapidly, whilst social mobility is at a standstill.

In addition, In Defence of Welfare 2 shows how stigma has become a key challenge for welfare recipients, particularly the poorest in society. The portrayal of the welfare state as ‘too generous’ resulting in welfare dependency is inaccurate. The language of ‘scroungers’, ‘cheats’ and ‘troubled families’ are all too prevalent in the media and beyond, and have a detrimental impact on people’s well-being. Such terminology is the result of an unfortunate dichotomy of workers vs non-workers and rich vs poor which permeates society. It is argued that a responsible civic language is required.

Importantly, In Defence of Welfare 2 considers how welfare can and should develop in order to promote a more equal society, one which provides for the needs of those with the lowest and most precarious incomes in the UK.

Editors: Liam Foster, Anne Brunton, Chris Deeming, Tina Haux

Twitter: @SocialPolicyUK #IDOWII #defendwelfare



International Conference Support Scheme Call for Applications

Round One: Applications by 17th April 2015.

The call for applications for the SPA’s international support scheme is now open.

The purpose of the International Conference Support Scheme is to increase the SPA’s links with
overseas scholars and learned societies and to promote the SPA internationally.

Each award offers a maximum of £300 per applicant towards the conference registration fees of:

  • UK-based SPA members who have been accepted to present a paper at an overseas conference;
  • Non-UK based SPA members who have been accepted to present a paper at a conference

See here for details and the International pages for more about the SPA’s global activities.

Doing Quantitative Research – Workbook resources

The following four quantitative workbooks were developed by Liam Foster and Tom Clark at the University of Sheffield in response to their own undergraduates’ concerns that many introductory statistics books took too much for granted in terms of mathematical ability and understanding. They’ve tried to take nothing for granted and attempt to explain the ideas they present in terms of ‘real-life’ sociological research. They draw heavily on research projects developed from the material available from the UK Data Service. Many of the projects included were originally developed and carried out by their own students as part of their assessment for the module.

What do the workbooks cover?

Taken as a whole, the workbooks aim to equip the reader with the skills necessary to:

  • plan and undertake small scale quantitative research projects
  • build coherent rationales for conducting research
  • locate or construct critically informed survey-based questions and datasets that are appropriate to the subject under investigation
  • analyse the properties of quantitative data using appropriate descriptive techniques
  • utilise and employ basic inferential techniques to answer research questions
  • report the results of their investigations accurately and with due regard to the relative importance of different findings and their limitations

Who should use the workbooks?

So, if you are student who is grappling with the basics of quantitative social research, a lecturer in need of some basic material, or a working professional looking to explore the area for the first time, click on the links to find out more about each workbook.

  1. Developing your research interests into quantitative projects
  2. Introducing variables and understanding their levels of measurement
  3. Describing and summarising data
  4. Chi-square: Introducing the ‘goodness of fit’ rest and the ‘test of association’

Who wrote the workbooks?

The workbooks were developed and written by Liam Foster and Tom Clark. They both lecture in the Department of Sociological Studies at the University of Sheffield and have much experience of teaching practical quantitative research methods to undergraduates who can ‘add up’, but do not consider themselves confident enough to use statistical techniques for research. Liam has just co-authored the new edition of Beginning Statistics: An Introduction for Social Scientists with Ian Diamond and Julie Jeffries, whilst Tom has much experience in designing and delivering research methods teaching in a variety of contexts. He is currently seconded to the Sheffield Methods Institute and is helping them to co-ordinate a new degree programme in Applied Social Sciences.

Who funded these workbooks?

The original development of this project was funded through a unique collaboration at the University of Sheffield called CILASS (the Centre for Inquiry-based Learning in the Arts and Social Sciences). The subsequent re-design and delivery of these workbooks and this website has been facilitated with the helpful assistance of the Higher Education Academy through their ‘Teaching Research Methods in the Social Sciences‘ 2014 funding programme.

Who designed the workbooks?

The workbooks were designed by Laura Ashton, a freelance graphic designer based in Sheffield. You can see more examples of her work at her website