How ideas impact social policy

Authored by: Daniel Béland

Routledge Handbook of the Welfare State

Print publication date:  July  2018
Online publication date:  June  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138631649
eBook ISBN: 9781315207049
Adobe ISBN:


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Over the past two decades we have witnessed a multiplication of academic books and articles dealing directly with the role of ideas in public and social policy (to mention only a few of these books: Béland and Cox, 2011; Blyth, 2002; Genieys and Smyrl, 2008; Gilbert, 2002; Gofas and Hay, 2010; Merrien, 2001). The objective of this chapter is to discuss the variety of ideational processes that may affect social policy stability and change over time. The chapter begins with a general discussion of the role of ideas that leads to a critical survey of key ideational factors. This discussion leads in turn to brief remarks about the need for historical ideational analysis, the issue of why some ideas may become more influential than others, and the appropriate research methods for empirical ideational analysis.

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