The first Annual Lecture of the Journal Social Policy & Society, sponsored by Cambridge University Press in association with the University of Sheffield Social Policy Research Cluster, will be held in the Diamond LT8 at the University of Sheffield on the 22nd of March from 5-6 pm. Everyone is welcome but registration is essential.
The lecture focuses on ‘troubled families’, the subject of a themed section in the January 2016 issue of Social Policy & Society, and will be delivered by Stephen Crossley and Michael Lambert, the themed section editors. The lecture will be followed by a wine reception in the exhibition space at the same venue from 6 – 7 pm to celebrate the first year of Social Policy & Society under the editorship of Liam Foster and Majella Kilkey at the University of Sheffield.
Information about the lecture, consisting of two presentations, can be found below:
Stephen Crossley – Senior Lecturer in Social Policy at Northumbria University
‘Double, double, toil and trouble’: myths, magic and statecraft in the Troubled Families Programme
Given the mysterious, almost perfect, fairy-tale like success of the ‘troubled families’ story, it is appropriate to critically examine the development of the Troubled Families Programme (TFP) by drawing on writing around alchemy, myth, magic and statecraft. This paper draws on Clarke & Newman’s work on ‘the alchemy of austerity’, Cassirer’s writing on ‘political myths’, Bourdieu’s theory of the ‘social magic’ effect of the state and Wacquant’s more recent work on ‘neoliberal statecraft’. The role of the state in the creation of ‘troubled families’ is examined before the attention turns to the performance of ‘troubled families’ via the government’s TFP. The scarcely believable, yet widely acclaimed success, of the TFP is then scrutinized, drawing on the recent publication of the evaluation of the programme. The paper concludes with a discussion of the continuing widespread belief in ‘troubled families’, even amongst practitioners and researchers.
Michael Lambert – Post-Doctoral Teaching Fellow in Early Childhood Studies at Liverpool Hope University
‘“The dragons’ harvest”? Managing “problem families” in post-war Sheffield, 1945-74.’
Louise Casey (2012, p. 1) in Listening to Troubled Families declared that the Troubled Families Programme (TFP) ‘is an opportunity to not repeat the failed attempts of the past’. Despite being a history graduate, both her comments and the substance of the TFP represented an uncertain grasp on what ‘the failed attempts of the past’ were. This paper reconstructs what ‘the failed attempts of the past’ actually were by exploring the management of so-called ‘problem families’ in the post-war period. The city of Sheffield is used as a case study to explore how ‘problem families’ were defined and managed by a host of social, welfare, health and other services during the ‘golden age’ of the welfare state from 1945 to 1974. What becomes evident is that neither Casey nor the TFP have heeded or learned from the past, and the persistent underlying ‘problem’ or ‘trouble’ of families is poverty, marginalisation and subjection.
If you are interested in attending the event please register early at https://goo.gl/forms/2N2HHnhYI17YE3A72 to avoid disappointment.