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Social Work Social Policy
by
Michael Reisch

Introduction

Social policy has both broad and narrow definitions in the literature. A broad definition includes such diverse areas as income maintenance, assets development, health and mental health, child welfare, family policy, housing, employment, juvenile and criminal justice, and services to particular populations, such as the aged, women, and persons with disabilities. Under some definitions, policies in the areas of education, public transportation, community and economic development, environmental protection, and energy assistance are also included. Narrower definitions sometimes conflate social policy with social welfare policy or with policies that serve low-income persons. The vast literature on US social policy can be roughly divided into the following categories: works that focus on US social policy in general, works that look at specific aspects of social policy (e.g., Social Security, public assistance, family policy, health care) possibly from a comparative or international perspective, and works that examine the historical development or ideological foundations of social policy. This entry identifies sources from the fields of social work, public policy, law, and history with specific reference to those that address the relationship of social policy to social welfare and social work. In addition to leading texts and more specific works on social policy, it also identifies major journals that address social policy issues, Internet resources, reference books (such as encyclopedias and guidebooks), works that reflect an international or comparative perspective, and bibliographies. Every effort has been made to include sources in English from Europe, North America, South Asia, and Australia.

Introductory Works

Most introductory social policy texts cover a similar range of topics, although their order of presentation and the breadth and depth of their analyses vary. They often begin with an overview of conceptual approaches to social policy and an explanation of key terms. They frequently introduce the distinctions among for-profit, nonprofit, and public sector policies and programs. Some texts discuss how social science influences the development, implementation, and evaluation of policies. Virtually all texts include methods of policy analysis and content on how social needs, such as poverty, are measured. Chambers and Wedel 2009 and Burt and Nightingale 2009 are particularly strong in this regard. Most books, such as Gilbert and Terrell 2009, also describe the stages and processes of policy development, sometimes referred to as “policy practice.” Other works emphasize the relationship of social policies to vulnerable populations, such as women, racial and ethnic minorities, low-income families, children, the aged, or persons with disabilities. In some books, this relationship is framed in terms of diversity or multiculturalism. A good example of this approach is Jimenez 2010, which like Barusch 2009, focuses on the impact of values such as social justice on social policy. Most texts cover the implications of different ideologies and discuss the historical evolution of US social policy with references to its international, particularly European, antecedents. Dolgoff and Feldstein 2008 is an example of this type of presentation. Another major theme in many texts is the relationship of social policy to poverty and inequality. Blau 2010, Allard 2009, and Jimenez 2010 reflect this emphasis. Their books include content on specific policy alternatives to address these issues. Virtually all texts contain chapters or sections of chapters on welfare policy, Social Security, health care, housing, and social services. Finally, many texts address emerging issues, such as economic globalization, population migration, demographic/cultural diversity, climate change, terrorism, welfare reform, crises in the financing of entitlements, the privatization of social policy, and the transformation of the welfare state. Karger and Stoesz 2009, and Allard 2009 are good examples of this approach.

  • Allard, S. W. 2009. Out of reach: Place, poverty, and the new American welfare state. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

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    Provides a comprehensive assessment of the relationship between the transformation of US communities and the revisions of US social policy within the past several decades. It focuses on the impact of structural changes in the economy and society, and the effects they have produced on the nature and extent of poverty. The author argues that new forms of poverty have appeared in conjunction with the emergence of a new type of social welfare system.

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  • Barusch, Amanda S. 2009. Foundations of social policy: Social justice in human perspective. 3d ed. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.

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    Analyzes contemporary social policy, which it defines as a “collective response” to social problems, through a social justice framework. It examines the government’s role in addressing issues of poverty, health, and old age. A third of the book is devoted to the relationship of social policy to vulnerable populations.

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  • Blau, Joel, with Mimi Abramovitz. 2010. The dynamics of social welfare policy. 3d ed. New York: Oxford University Press.

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    Argues that social welfare policy is shaped by a combination of economic, political, ideological, and historical factors. It presents a sophisticated policy model that emphasizes these factors and applies this model to the areas of income support, employment, housing, health care, and food and hunger.

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  • Burt, Martha R., and Demitra S. Nightingale. 2009. Repairing the U.S. social safety net. Washington, DC: Urban Institute.

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    Combines an analysis of recent changes in US social policy (with a particular emphasis on federally funded entitlement programs), a framework for analyzing state-supported policies, a critique of the structural and ideological dimensions of recent policy shifts, and a set of proposed revisions of contemporary policies to restore the US safety net.

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  • Chambers, Donald E., and Kenneth R. Wedel. 2009. Social policy and social programs: A method for the practical public policy analyst. 5th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

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    Focuses on the processes by which social problems emerge as policy issues and the institutional and ideological factors that shape policy development. It applies a “value-critical approach” to policy analysis that focuses on five components: goals, benefits, eligibility, program design, and financing, and the interaction among them.

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  • Dolgoff, Ralph, and Donald Feldstein. 2008. Understanding social welfare: A search for social justice. 8th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

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    Looks at the role of social values, particularly social justice, in shaping the structure and content of social policy: in particular, the nature, causes, and societal responses to poverty. Explicates policy concepts in detail and presents a framework for examining the structure and characteristics of social welfare programs.

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  • Gilbert, Neil, and Paul Terrell. 2009. Dimensions of social welfare policy. 7th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

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    Examines social policy within the context of the modern welfare state through a multidimensional analytic framework that includes the basis of societal allocations, nature of social provision, design of delivery systems, and financing sources. It integrates content on specific policies into this framework rather than discussing them separately.

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  • Jimenez, Jillian. 2010. Social policy and social change: Toward the creation of economic and social justice. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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    Emphasizes the relationships between welfare-state policies and the pursuit of social justice. Analyzes US social welfare in historical and comparative perspective, and assesses the impact of social policies on women and persons of color, particularly those in the areas of social insurance, welfare, and health care. It is particularly valuable for its analysis of social policies in a structural and ideological framework, for its effective use of graphics, and for its concrete suggestions as to how socially just policies can be developed.

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  • Karger, Howard Jacob, and David Stoesz. 2009. American social policy: A pluralist approach. 6th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

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    Emphasizes the roles of ideology, political economy, and politics in determining the parameters of US social policy. It stresses the impact of various forms of discrimination in American society and, unlike most books, includes content on the significance of tax policy, the nonprofit sector, and criminal justice.

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Reference Works

The major reference works in the social policy area range from multivolume sets that cover a broad range of social policy issues, such as Mizrahi and Davis 2008, to books that combine articles addressing the substance of specific social policies as well as content on policy-oriented practice, such as Midgely and Livermore 2008, Weill, et al. 2005, and Roberts 2008. Other works, including Herrick and Stuart 2005, are bounded by their geographic focus. Finally, there are sources that are comprehensive compilations of data that cover a wide range of social policies and the problems they address or a specific subset of social policy, such as child welfare or economic well-being, and provide access to many other sources of information online.

  • Herrick, John M., and Paul M. Stuart, eds. The encyclopedia of social welfare history in North America. 2005. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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    Contains short and long essays on a wide range of social policy issues. It is valuable because they discuss issues from Canadian, Mexican, and US perspectives, facilitating comparative analysis. The encyclopedia also includes a resource guide, a chronology of North American social welfare history, and a comprehensive bibliography.

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  • Midgley, James, and Michelle Livermore, eds. 2008. Handbook of social policy. Rev. ed. Newbury Park, CA: SAGE.

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    The second edition of this handbook includes updated essays by leading social welfare scholars on the historical evolution of US social policy, contemporary social policy issues, and various dimensions of the policy-making process.

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  • Mizrahi, Terry and Larry Davis, eds. 2008. Encyclopedia of social work. 20th ed. Washington, DC: National Association of Social Workers.

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    This three-volume work contains articles written by experts in the field on virtually every topic related to social policy and social work practice. It also includes short biographies of major social work figures. Each edition is updated regularly with a supplement.

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  • Roberts, Albert R. 2008. Social workers’ desk reference. 2d ed. New York: Oxford University Press.

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    The revised edition of this volume contains a wide range of essays on various aspects of social policy and social work practice by experts in the field. Includes essays on specific policy issues, policy advocacy, and the process of implementation at the agency and community level. Also see online an excellent comprehensive collection of social policy resources including links to scholarly organizations, data sources, libraries, government resources, journals, the nonprofit sector, and resources directed at social policy issues such as aging.

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  • Weil, Marie, Michael Reisch, Dorothy N. Gamble, Lorraine Gutierrez, Elizabeth Mulroy, and Ram A. Cnaan, eds. 2005. Handbook of community practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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    Although this volume does not focus specifically on social policy, there are numerous articles on the policy context of practice, contemporary policy issues, and problems of policy development and implementation. There are also several articles on the international dimensions of practice that are relevant to understanding the social policy environment.

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Data Sources

The advent of the Internet has exponentially increased the amount of data available on social policies and the issues they address. The sources listed here focus on this material in several different ways. The Statistical Abstract of the United States 2010 is the most comprehensive collection of data on all aspects of social and economic conditions, and social policies in the nation. Sources such as the Pew Center on the States are particularly useful to explore the differential conditions among US states and regions. Other sources provide data that focus on specific dimensions of social policy: children and youth (Center for the Study of Social Policy 2010), the economic and social conditions of America’s families (Mishel, et al. 2009), and poverty and employment (United States Bureau of the Census 2009, and United States Bureau of Labor Statistics 2009).

  • Center for the Study of Social Policy. 2010. Kids count data book. Baltimore: Annie E. Casey Foundation.

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    An annual compilation of data about the status of children and youth in the United States, this is an invaluable tool for policy analysis and policy advocacy. The data are divided by topical area (e.g., health, education), by state, and by gender and race, facilitating their use for comparative analysis.

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  • Mishel, L., J. Bernstein, and H. Shierholz. 2009. The state of working America, 2008–2009. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

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    This annual publication provides comprehensive statistics on indicators of economic and social well-being among American families. Particularly useful for the data about employment and wages, and about the impact of changes in tax and fiscal policies on US households.

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  • Pew Center on the States.

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    A site updated daily that looks at current policy issues. A valuable resource for comparative analyses of social and economic conditions within the United States and of the different strategies states have employed to address them.

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    • United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2009. Employment and occupations in the United States. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

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      Comprehensive listing of the nature and scope of employment and unemployment in the United States: listed by geographic region, economic sector, race, age, and gender.

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    • United States Census Bureau. 2009. Poverty: 2007 and 2008 American community survey. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office.

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      The most comprehensive collection of government statistics on poverty and its various manifestations. It includes data on income levels and sources, participation in the welfare system, and utilization of a broad range of income support and social services. Available online.

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    • United States Census Bureau. 2010. The statistical abstract of the United States. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office.

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      The most comprehensive source of information about all aspects of life in the United States. It is available online and organized by topic, geographic region, race, age, and gender.

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    Journals

    The journals listed here can be distinguished in three different ways. First, there are those journals that cover a wide range of social policy issues, such as Social Service Review, Social Work, the British Journal of Social Work, the European Journal of Social Work, and the Journal of Social Policy, and those that focus exclusively on issues within a specific area of social policy, such as the Journal of Poverty. Second, there is the distinction between journals that cover only the substance of policy issues and their underlying philosophy and those that also cover issues related to the implementation of policy at both micro and macro (organizational or community) levels. Examples of the former include the Journal of Poverty and the Journal of Social Policy. Most of the other journals listed here fall into the latter category. Finally, there is the distinction between journals that primarily have a national focus (Social Work and the British Journal of Social Work fall into this category) and those that are international or global in scope, such as the European Journal of Social Work, Journal of European Social Policy, and International Social Work.

    • British Journal of Social Work.

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      Published for the British Association of Social Workers, this is the leading academic social work journal in the UK. It covers every aspect of social work, with papers reporting research, discussing practice, and examining principles and theories. It is read by social work educators, researchers, practitioners, and managers who wish to keep current with the field’s theoretical and empirical developments.

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    • European Journal of Social Work.

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      Articles in this refereed journal analyze European and international developments in social work, social policy, and social service institutions, and discuss social change strategies regarding contemporary key issues. Through an interdisciplinary perspective, it examines emerging paradigms in methodology and comparative analysis. A specific focus is the response of the social professions to globalization and the decline of the welfare state.

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    • International Social Work.

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      Official journal of the International Association of Schools of Social Work, the International Council on Social Welfare, and the International Federation of Social Workers. Its major focus is the interaction between globalization and the development of social welfare at the national level, and between social work and community development locally. It includes comparative studies and cross-national research.

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    • Journal of European Social Policy.

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      Contains provocative and timely articles about the changing nature of welfare states in Europe. Includes essays that focus on the theoretical and philosophical bases of European social policies and those that analyze the impact of these policies on specific issues and populations.

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    • Journal of Poverty.

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      Presents a conception of poverty that is broader and more inclusive than the traditional view. Attention is given to people’s needs for education, employment, safe and affordable housing, nutrition, adequate medical care, and other social and political needs. Its articles also focus on the impact of social forces such as race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and disability.

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    • Journal of Social Policy.

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      Offers high-quality articles on all aspects of social policy in an international context. It places particular emphasis on articles that contribute to debates on the future direction of social policy, present new empirical data, advance theories, or analyze issues in the making and implementation of social policies.

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    • Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare.

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      Quarterly that applies social science knowledge, methodology, and technology to problems of social policy, politics, social ecology, and social services in order to promote the understanding of social welfare. Beginning in 1974, it has published articles on such topics as social change, gender, race, homelessness, and the social dimensions of health.

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    • Social Service Review.

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      Covers the history, philosophy, and substance of social policy and the processes of policy development and implementation. Its articles reflect various disciplinary perspectives, theories, and methodological traditions. Features balanced contributions from social work and social welfare scholars as well as members of allied disciplines. It is perhaps the most highly regarded journal in the US social welfare field.

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    • Social Work.

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      Leading journal of the social work profession and the official journal of the National Association of Social Workers. Its articles examine a wide range of current social problems and often emphasize social policy solutions to ongoing social and economic issues.

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    Aging Policy

    The literature in the field of aging policy has undergone a considerable transformation since 1990 for several reasons. One is increasing awareness of the economic, social, and fiscal consequences of an aging population in virtually all Western industrialized nations. The books listed here that reflect this awareness include Holzman, et al. 2005, Veron, et al. 2007, and United Nations 2001. Another influence is the growing body of biomedical, sociological, and anthropological research that has changed our perceptions of the aging process. Books such as Estes 2001, and Markson and Hollis-Sawyer 2000 reflect this trend. A third trend is a response to the looming funding crises that existing income support and health-care policies face in the not-too-distant future. Works such as Caputo 2005, and Pruchno and Smyer 2007 clearly fall into this category.

    • Caputo, Richard. K., ed. 2005. Challenges of aging in U.S. families: Policy and practice implications. New York: Haworth.

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      This anthology explores a broad range of policy and practice issues affecting elderly Americans in the early 21st century. It includes content on social insurance, health, mental health, and social services and explores how contemporary policies have altered the nature of practice with the elderly and produced a variety of ethical dilemmas for practitioners.

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    • Estes, Carol L. 2001. Social policy and aging: A critical perspective. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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      Written from a multidisciplinary perspective, this book explores the policy implications of the economic, social, political, cultural, and psychological dimensions of the aging process. It analyzes how the problems of the elderly are constructed and how this construction shapes the goals, structure, and boundaries of contemporary debates about aging policy.

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    • Holzman, Robert, and Richard Hinz, with Hermann von Gersdorff. 2005. Old age income support in the 21st century: An international perspective on pension systems and reform. Washington, DC: World Bank.

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      Provides an incisive examination of governmental and private sector efforts to address the economic needs of the elderly in the context of the changing welfare state. Also presents an in-depth analysis of threats to public and private pensions, and how various states are attempting to address them.

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    • Markson, Elizabeth W., and Lisa A. Hollis-Sawyer. 2000. Intersections of aging: Readings in social gerontology. Los Angeles: Roxbury Associates.

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      Focuses on the social and psychological aspects of aging and their implications for contemporary social policy. By including contributions from diverse disciplines, it demonstrates the complex problems confronting the elderly and the need for sophisticated forms of policy intervention that approach the issues from multiple dimensions.

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    • Pruchno, Rachel A., and Michael A. Smyer. 2007. Challenges of an aging society: Ethical dilemmas, political issues. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

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      Provides a public-health perspective on the issues confronting the elderly in the early 21st century and the challenges facing policy makers in attempting to address their needs. Discusses such issues as the rationing of care, the allocation of scarce resources, and the relationship between social efficiency, social justice, and policy effectiveness.

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    • United Nations. 2001. The world aging situation: Exploring a society for all ages. New York: United Nations.

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      This analysis of global data is a useful tool to examine how demographic differences shape the societal dynamics of nations. The policy dimensions of the contrast between European societies and developing nations are explored in the context of a broader discussion of the future goals of economic and social development.

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    • Véron, Jacques, Sophie Pennec, and Jacques Légaré. 2007. Ages, generations, and the social contract. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.

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      From a European perspective, this book presents a useful discussion of two significant policy issues: the challenges created by economic and demographic changes to the social contract underlying modern welfare states and the effects of fiscal crises and ideological attacks on the intergenerational bonds at the heart of this contract.

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    Child Welfare Policy

    As in the field of aging policy, publications on child welfare policy have been influenced by contemporary developments in research, society, and politics. For example, recent research on cognitive development has had a considerable effect on policies for children 0–5 years old. This viewpoint appears in Aber 2007, Wulczyn 2005, and Holzer, et al. 2007. Rapid demographic and cultural changes due to immigration, increasing diversity among the US population of children and youth, and diverse cultural values about childrearing and family formation have led to a reexamination of many of the premises of the nation’s child welfare programs. Books such as Rainwater and Smeeding 2003 and Roberts 2002 reflect this perspective, as do the articles in Child Welfare. Finally, the persistence of chronic poverty and the growth of income and asset inequality have compelled scholars to address how these issues are linked to the problems that the child welfare system attempts to address. In this regard, it is useful to assess the comparative approaches taken by other Western nations to these pressing concerns. Works that fall into this category include Asher Ben-Arieh and Goerge 2006, McAuley, et al. 2006, and Axford 2008.

    • Aber, J. L., ed. 2007. Child development and social policy: Knowledge for action. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

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      Explores the relationship between child development research and the creation of child-centered social policies. Contains useful discussions of recent findings about brain development among young children and adolescents. These findings have significant implications for policies regarding child care, pre-and after-school programs, public education, and juvenile justice.

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    • Asher Ben-Arieh, and Robert M. Goerge. 2006. Indicators of child well-being: Understanding their role, usage and policy influence. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.

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      Provides comparative data on a wide range of social indicators to help guide the formation and evaluation of public policies regarding children. Particularly helpful for its interpretation of these data and its discussion of how they can be used most effectively by policy makers at all levels.

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    • Axford, Nick. 2008. Exploring concepts of child well-being: Implications for children’s services. Bristol, UK: Policy Press.

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      Goes beyond discussions of the “best interests of the child” to analyze the relationship between concepts of children’s well-being and children’s services. Written from a British perspective, it is useful for US readers because it explores the impact of family income, health, and the environment on children’s well-being.

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    • Child Welfare.

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      Published by the Child Welfare League of America, this journal has a strong emphasis on public child welfare, particularly protective services. Often produces special issues on such topics as children’s mental health or child care.

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    • Holzer, Harry J., D. W. Schanzenbach, Gregory J. Duncan, and J. Ludwig. 2007. The economic costs of poverty in the United States: Subsequent effects of children growing up poor. Washington, DC: Center for American Progress.

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      Rather than examining the various dimensions and causes of poverty among children, this report analyzes its economic consequences on both the children and society as a whole. This approach is attractive, therefore, because it calls for greater government intervention on grounds of compassion, societal self-interest, and economic efficiency.

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    • McAuley, Colette, Peter Pecora, and Wendy Rose, eds. 2006. Enhancing the well-being of children and families through effective intervention: International evidence for practice. Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley.

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      Anthology that focuses on the implications of the latest intervention research for the development of effective social policies for children and families. By presenting findings from a cross-national perspective, it enables the reader to assess the role of context in defining contemporary issues and in shaping effective public policies.

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    • Rainwater, Lee, and Timothy M. Smeeding. 2003. Poor kids in a rich country: America’s children in comparative perspective. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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      Monograph that documents disparities in income and a wide range of social indicators affecting children in the United States. Analyzes the causes of these disparities and presents them in comparative perspective. Its underlying premise is that widespread poverty among American children is both disgraceful and unnecessary given the nation’s resources.

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    • Roberts, Dorothy. 2002. Shattered bonds: The color of child welfare. New York: Basic Books.

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      Adds to the literature examining the effects of racism on the US child welfare system. The author analyzes its underlying biases and its impact on families of color. Challenges many long-standing assumptions and calls for a dramatic overhaul of the system’s goals and structure.

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    • Wulczyn, Fred. 2005. Beyond common sense: Child welfare, child well-being, and evidence for policy reform. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.

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      The premise here is that evidence-based intervention research is essential for policy makers to understand the nation’s complex child welfare problems. It presents multiple examples of how this research can be used to revise or augment prevailing “practice wisdom” and promote a variety of policy changes to enhance children’s well-being.

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    Family Policy

    Unlike most Western industrialized nations, the United States has never developed a comprehensive family policy. Although many social and economic policies have a direct or indirect impact on families, there has been persistent resistance to the concept of an integrated family policy. This has occurred for both cultural and ideological reasons. Yet recent developments, such as the multiple consequences of growing social and economic inequality, increasing demographic and cultural diversity, and persistent political controversies over the extent of family responsibility for individual well-being, have led scholars of various ideological positions to examine how social policies could strengthen families. Many books on the subject of family policy focus on the social and economic inequalities that persist in the United States. Examples of this approach include Bowles, et al. 2005, Skocpol 2000, and Currie 2006. Other books, such as Dahl and Lochner 2005, Jenson and Fraser 2006, and Smolensky and Gootman 2003, address the relationship between family-centered policies and the likelihood of children’s success in later life. Finally, some works center their analyses on the impact of specific policies that affect various aspects of families’ well-being. These include Stolzfus 2006 and Wallace, et al. 2003.

    • Bowles, Samuel, Herbert Gintis, and Melissa O. Groves, eds. 2005. Unequal chances: Family background and economic success. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

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      Explores the means in which the socioeconomic background of children’s family of origin facilitates or impedes their opportunities in the areas of employment, education, physical well-being, and social status. It refutes the myths of upward social mobility and underscores the limitations of policies focusing solely on equal opportunity.

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    • Currie, Janet M. 2006. The invisible safety net: Protecting the nation’s poor children and families. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

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      Examines the role of the public and private nonprofit sectors in providing economic and social protections for low-income households. It demonstrates the importance of developing and implementing family-oriented policies in a coordinated manner, both between government and nongovernmental organizations and between different levels of government.

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    • Dahl, Gordon, and Lance Lochner. 2005. The impact of family income on child achievement. Working Paper 11279. Washington, DC: National Bureau of Economic Research.

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      Provides an in-depth analysis of the relationship between socioeconomic status and children’s performance in school. Demonstrates how environmental factors beyond the control of educators determine educational outcomes and thereby restructures the debate over how to revise existing policies to improve students’ educational progress.

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    • Jenson, Jeffrey M., and Mark W. Fraser. 2006. Social policies for children and families: A risk and resilience perspective. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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      Applies the psychological constructs of risk (external) and resilience (internal) to assess the current structure and impact of US social policies for children and families. This framework breaks down the traditional dichotomy between macro and micro approaches and is particularly useful in today’s complex policy and practice environment.

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    • Skocpol, Theda 2000. The missing middle: Working families and the future of American social policy. New York: Norton.

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      Written by a noted sociologist, this book critiques recent approaches to US family policy that have relied primarily on selective programs. It proposes a new orientation that takes into account the much overlooked needs of working Americans who cannot receive means-tested benefits and receive too little from universal programs.

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    • Smolensky, Eugene, and Jennifer A. Gootman, eds. 2003. Working families and growing kids: Caring for children and adolescents. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

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      Focuses on the specific economic and social needs of households with children in which one or more parents are working. Each chapter includes an exploration of various policy and program options to address these needs. The anthology is particularly useful because of its inclusion of content on adolescents.

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    • Stolzfus, Emilie 2006. Child welfare: State performances on child and family services reviews. New York: Novinka.

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      A compilation of state-by-state assessments of public child welfare systems that demonstrates the common problems state governments are experiencing—including excessive caseloads, gaps in the foster care system, and inadequate numbers of child-care slots—and the different approaches they are taking to solve them.

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    • Wallace, H. M., G. Green, and K. J. Jaros, with N. Morris, eds. 2003. Health and welfare for families in the 21st century. Boston: Jones and Bartlett.

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      Assesses the changing needs of families today and advises on how social policies need to be revised to address them. Focus is on such issues as the impact of changing family structures, new employment patterns, demographic shifts, evolving cultural norms, and regional differences.

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    Health Policy

    Perhaps more than any other social policy issue, health care has become a central focus of policy analysts and policy makers during the past two decades. This has occurred for several reasons. One reason is the rising cost of health care and the impact of this cost on individual and family well-being and the nation’s economy: Marmor 2000 and Skocpol 1997 make these arguments effectively. A second influence is the dramatic rise in the number of individuals who lack health insurance and the additional millions whose coverage is inadequate. Works that contribute to this perspective include Dworkin 2000, and Morone and Jacobs 2005. A third factor is the growing awareness of persistent racial, ethnic, and gender disparities in both health and health-care provision. Works that emphasize these issues include Hofrichter 2003, Navarro 2007, and Smedley, et al. 2003. Finally, there has been increased attention to the relationship between health-related problems and other issues such as school performance, poverty, and homelessness. Moniz and Gorin 2003 focuses on this topic, as do the articles in the American Journal of Public Health.

    • American Journal of Public Health.

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      The leading journal in its field. Its mission is to advance public health research, policy, practice, and education. Contains articles of high scholarly quality, with a strong emphasis on quantitative studies, and serves as a forum for health policy analysis.

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    • Dworkin, Ronald 2000. Justice in the distribution of health care. In The ideal of equality. Edited by M. Clayton and A. Williams, 203–222. New York: St. Martin’s.

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      This essay by a noted philosopher applies the concept of distributive justice to alternative options for policy development in the health-care arena. It identifies the nature and sources of injustice in the US health-care system and makes a powerful, ethically based argument for institutional change.

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    • Hofrichter, R., ed. 2003. Health and social justice: Politics, ideology and inequity in the distribution of disease—A public health reader. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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      Analyzes ways in which the political process and its underlying philosophy produce disparate health outcomes for Americans. The specific examples of how this occurs emphasize the community aspects of health and health care, and provide a worthwhile complement to the conceptual framework presented by Dworkin’s essay.

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    • Marmor, Theodore R. 2000. The politics of Medicare. 2d ed. Hawthorne, NY: Aldine de Gruyter.

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      Updated, revised version of a policy-analysis classic focusing on the historical development of Medicare and its evolution. Stresses the impact of issues such as political feasibility and the interplay of institutional actors in the broader policy-making process.

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    • Moniz, Cynthia, and Stephen Gorin. 2003. Health and health care policy: A social work perspective. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

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      Part 1 presents an overview of the development of health and mental health policies in the United States. Part 2 analyzes contemporary policy, particularly concerning access to care. Parts 3 and 4 focus on inequalities in the health system and the specific impact on various populations at risk.

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    • Morone, James A., and L. R. Jacobs, eds. 2005. Healthy, wealthy, and fair: Health care and the good society. New York: Oxford University Press.

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      Anthology presenting a set of health policy goals that the editors maintain would be possible given the affluence of US society. The various essays examine the meaning of health and health care, both in terms of its implications for individuals and for the community as a whole.

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    • Navarro, Vincente 2007. Neoliberalism, globalization and inequalities: Consequences for health and quality of life. Amityville, NY: Baywood.

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      Traces the US health-care crisis to its roots in economic globalization and the ideology (neoliberalism) that emerged to rationalize it. It documents how contemporary health disparities, the maldistribution of health-care resources, and the advent of policy changes such as managed care are interrelated consequences of globalization.

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    • Skocpol, Theda. 1997. Boomerang: Health care reform and the turn against government. New York: Norton.

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      Analyzes the relationship between health-care reform in the United States and the growth of antigovernment sentiment through an examination of the failure of President Bill Clinton’s 1993 attempt to reform the nation’s health-care system and the development of a managed-care approach to the distribution of health resources.

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    • Smedley, B. D., A. Y. Stith, and A. R. Nelson, eds. 2003. Unequal treatment: Confronting racial and ethnic disparities in health care. Washington, DC: National Academic Press.

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      Using recent epidemiological data, these essays explore the various manifestations of health inequalities among racial and ethnic minority populations in the United States. They illustrate the uneven pattern of health and illness among the US population and how the distribution of the nation’s health-care resources exacerbates these long-standing disparities.

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    Housing Policy

    The literature on housing policy reflects several recent developments. One is the growing resegregation of US cities and metropolitan areas—a consequence of urban gentrification, changes in the nation’s economy, planned and unplanned displacement, and the growing lack of affordable housing. A second is the dramatic decline in public sector investment in housing since 1980. A third is increased awareness of the relationship between the quality of housing and other issues such as education, employment, and crime—as well as the emergence of environmental justice as a social issue. The first issue is addressed by such works as Carr and Kutty 2008, Bennett, et al. 2006, and De Souza Briggs 2005. Books that put housing issues in a broader perspective include Bratt, et al. 2006, Husock 2003, Colton 2003, and Schwartz 2006.

    • Bennett, Larry, Janet L. Smith, and P. R. Wright, eds. 2006. Where are poor people to live? Transforming public housing. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe.

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      Focuses on the effects of gentrification and extensive government cutbacks in funding for public housing. The essays are concerned with such issues as the increasing concentration of low-income families in depressed neighborhoods, the relationship between urban restructuring and homelessness, and the need for public-private partnerships to solve the problem.

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    • Bratt, Rachel G., Michael E. Stone, and Chester Hartman, eds. 2006. A right to housing: Foundation for a new social agenda. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

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      Discusses the policy implications of establishing housing as a fundamental human and constitutional right for Americans. The essays address the philosophical, political, and practical aspects of this principle based on the underlying premise that a right to housing is inextricably linked to other basic social rights and needs.

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    • Carr, James H., and Nandinee Kutty, ed. 2008. Segregation: The rising costs for America. New York: Routledge.

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      Presents an innovative approach to the problem of racially based housing segregation in the United States. Instead of focusing exclusively on the effects of segregation on low-income families and racial or ethnic minorities, the authors analyze its impact on the US economy and society as a whole.

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    • Colton, Kent W. 2003. Housing in the twenty-first century: Achieving common ground. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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      A good overview of the controversies surrounding US housing policy that often impede the development of effective responses. The author argues that a policy consensus based on a combination of economic development, community stability, political feasibility, and social mobility can best be achieved through public-private partnerships.

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    • De Souza Briggs, Xavier, ed. 2005. The geography of opportunity: Race and housing choice in metropolitan America. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.

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      Explores the complex relationship between race, employment, housing, and the structure of metropolitan areas. A common theme is that the problem of affordable housing, particularly in urban areas, cannot be solved in the absence of a broader policy strategy that addresses issues of job training, education, and transportation.

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    • Goetz, Edward G. 2003. Clearing the way: Deconcentrating the poor in urban America. Washington, DC: Urban Institute Press.

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      Analyzes how during the past quarter century a combination of urban economic development strategies and the absence of housing policies focusing on the needs of low-income Americans promoted gentrification, greater racial and class segregation, and higher levels of poverty concentration in US cities.

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    • Husock, Howard. 2003. America’s trillion dollar housing mistake: The failure of American housing policy. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee.

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      Traces the history of US housing policy during the past century and analyzes what the author regards as its fundamentally flawed premises and implementation. These include failures in design, poor management, inaccurate assumptions about individual and group behavior, and the separation of housing from other related policy areas.

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    • Schwartz, A. F. 2006. Housing policy in the U.S.: An introduction. New York: Routledge.

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      A good overview of contemporary US housing policy. Summarizes its evolution and the underlying assumptions of policy makers; the strategies used to promote particular types of housing development; the respective roles of the federal government, local government, and the private sector; and the various programs’ successes and failures.

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    Mental Health Policy

    Although there is still a stigma attached to mental illness in US society, there has been increased attention to mental health policy since the early 1990s, which has resulted in some dramatic improvements. One source of change has been progress in the development of psychotropic medications, which have enabled many individuals to maintain independence while undergoing treatment. Books that include content on this development include Fawcett and Karban 2005, Frank and Glied 2006, and Rosenberg and Rosenberg 2006. Another has been the increased funding of mental health policies and programs, and a movement toward parity between mental health and other forms of health care. These issues are addressed in such works as Grob and Goldman 2006, Mechanic 1999, and Williams and Doessel 2001. A third impetus for change has been research findings revealing different dimensions of mental health and mental illness among populations on the basis of age. This led to a growing body of work that focuses specifically on the mental health needs of particular segments of the population, such as adolescents and the elderly. Included in this category are books such as Funk 2005 and Jenkins 2002 (which is from a British perspective).

    • Fawcett, Barbara, and Kate Karban. 2005. Contemporary mental health: Theory, policy, and practice. New York: Routledge.

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      Explores recent developments in mental health policy and practice in the context of the latest research on the etiology and treatment of mental illness. It demonstrates the ways in which theory informs both policy and practice, and how policy priorities influence the focus of mental health research.

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    • Frank, Richard G., and Sherry A. Glied. 2006. Better but not well: Mental health policy in the U.S. since 1950. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

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      Acknowledges recent improvements in mental health policy: that is, the closure of oppressive psychiatric institutions and advances in outpatient therapy, primarily through the introduction of various psychotropic medications. The authors also point out the need for continued reform, particularly in the area of community mental health and substance abuse treatment.

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    • Funk, Michelle. 2005. Child and adolescent mental health policies and plans. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization.

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      Summarizes the different approaches to the mental health needs of children and adolescents. Useful for its comparative analysis of policy development and implementation strategies, its examination of the underlying premises of such policies, and its placement of mental health issues in the context of overall health.

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    • Grob, Gerald N., and Howard H. Goldman. 2006. The dilemma of federal mental health policy: Radical reform or incremental change? New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

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      By tracing the historical development of federal mental health policy, the authors contextualize contemporary mental health policy dilemmas. They analyze the intended and unanticipated consequences of past efforts at major reform, such as deinstitutionalization, and discuss the relationship between ideal goals and feasibility in the current fiscal and political climate.

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    • Jenkins, R., et al. 2002. Developing a national mental health policy. Hove, UK: Taylor and Francis.

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      Discusses Britain’s need to construct an integrated national approach to mental health treatment and the problems involved in creating this framework and the means to coordinate local efforts. US readers who are examining mental health policy within an overall national health policy strategy may find it useful.

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    • Mechanic, David. 1999. Mental health and social policy: The emergence of managed care. 4th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

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      Traces the development of the underlying philosophy, financing, and delivery of US mental health policies through the emergence of managed care. It includes content on such issues as the connection between concepts of mental illness and policy formulation, and the social context of mental health practice.

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    • Rosenberg, Jessica, and Samuel Rosenberg, eds. 2006. Community mental health: Challenges for the 21st century. New York: Routledge.

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      Focuses on the problems involved in constructing a system of community-based mental health services in the complex environment of a 21st-century United States. Traces the failures of the community mental health system and the implications of demographic changes, policy devolution, and biomedical research for future policy strategies.

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    • Williams, Ruth F. G., and D. P. Doessel. 2001. The economics of mental health care: Industry, government, and community issues. Burlington, VT: Ashgate.

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      Focuses on the financial aspects of delivering quality mental health services, a topic often given insufficient attention in the literature. It compares top-down and bottom-up approaches, and has the additional virtue of presenting these issues from the diverse and often competing perspectives of the public and private sectors.

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    Social Security

    The “crisis” in Social Security has been a recurrent issue among US policy makers and politicians for nearly thirty years, although the recent economic crisis has undermined the efforts of those who were promoting its privatization. There is disagreement about the extent and nature of this crisis, but there is also widespread consensus that it may not be possible to maintain Social Security in its current form indefinitely and that substantial policy changes are essential to preserve the system and to reduce its persistent inequities, particularly for racial minorities and women. The literature on Social Security reflects these controversies and proposes a wide range of solutions to these problems. One approach to the issue has been the attempt to present a multifaceted set of policy solutions, which are not unduly influenced by preexisting ideological or political viewpoints. Examples of such works include Diamond and Orszag 2005, Kingson and Schulz 1997, and in a basic introductory sense, Shaviro 2000. A second category of books examines Social Security in a broader policy context, including Favreau, et al. 2002 and Hudson 2005. A third set of books focuses on the ways in which the US Social Security system reflects gender and racial biases. James, et al. 2008 and Poole 2006 address these persistent issues, respectively. Social Security Online is a valuable resource for the specific features of the Social Security Act, current eligibility guidelines, benefit levels, and frequently asked questions.

    • Diamond, P. A., and Peter A. Orszag. 2005. Saving Social Security: A balanced approach. Rev. ed. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.

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      Presents multiple perspectives on how to solve the coming US Social Security system crisis. They begin with a similar premise about the nature of the crisis and present centrist strategies to address it. Since coauthor Orszag has served as President Obama’s budget director, these essays may forecast future policy initiatives.

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    • Favreau, Melissa M., Frank J. Sammertino, and C. E. Steuerle, eds. 2002. Social Security and the family: Addressing unmet needs in an underfunded system. Washington, DC: Urban Institute Press.

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      Rather than analyzing Social Security from the perspective of individual workers or retirees, these essays examine its impact on overall family well-being. Through this lens, it explores policy options to address issues such as gender equity, the needs of disabled individuals, and the impact of Social Security on families’ economic status.

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    • Hudson, Robert B., ed. 2005. The new politics of old age policy. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

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      For over sixty years, a bipartisan political consensus existed about the goals and structure of Social Security in the United States. These essays explore the dimensions and implications of recent challenges to this consensus and present the political context of debates over privatization and other reform proposals.

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    • James, Estelle, Alexandra C. Edwards, and Rebecca Wong. 2008. The gender impact of Social Security reform. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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      Fills a gap in the literature that since the late 1980s has largely ignored persistent issues of gender inequality in the Social Security system. By reintroducing this issue in the context of recent proposals to solve the system’s crisis, it adds an important dimension to contemporary policy debates.

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    • Kingson, Eric R. and James H. Schulz, eds. 1997. Social Security in the 21st century. New York: Oxford University Press.

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      Although this book antedates the long debate over privatizing Social Security, many of the issues it addresses continue to have contemporary relevance. Written by leading experts on Social Security policy, these essays discuss the system’s future in light of current demographic trends and future economic, political, and social developments.

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    • Poole, Mary. 2006. The segregated origins of Social Security: African Americans and the welfare state. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

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      The racial inequalities of the Social Security system receive insufficient attention in contemporary debates about how to solve its problems. This book traces the structure of Social Security policy to the historical context of segregation, and the socioeconomic and political inequality that shaped it.

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    • Shaviro, Daniel N. 2000. Making sense of Social Security reform. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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      A good introduction to current policy debates over Social Security. Provides a clear summary of the economic and demographic background to the system’s financing crisis and analyzes the various reform options in a succinct manner, stressing the economic and fiscal dimensions of the problem.

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    • Social Security Online.

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      Website for the Social Security Administration. Contains updated information about the various provisions of the Social Security Act, its evolution since its passage in 1935, and current eligibility requirements and benefit levels.

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      Welfare and Welfare Reform

      The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), also known as “welfare reform,” dramatically transformed the US system of income support for low-income children and their caretakers. It reflected both the outcome of decades of policy debate and significantly altered the nature of that debate. This transformation is also reflected in the themes and foci of the literature in this area of social policy. And although there is clearly a dividing line between pre-and post-PRWORA writings on welfare, certain themes persist. These themes include the impact of race and gender on welfare policy, the relationship between welfare and poverty, the link between income support and other forms of social services, and the relative responsibility of public and private sectors for their delivery. Schram, et al. 2003, Albelda and Withorn 2002, and Marchevsky and Theoharis 2006 are good examples of the first genre. In the second category are books such as Besharov 2003 and Piven, et al. 2002. Works that address welfare reform in the overall context of social welfare policy include Borjas 2002, Blank 2002, and Fink and Widom 2001.

      • Albelda, Randy, and Ann Withorn, eds. 2002. Lost ground: Welfare reform, poverty, and beyond. Cambridge, MA: South End.

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        Places welfare reform in the broader context of US policies that address issues of poverty, particularly among women, children, and minorities of color. They demonstrate how recent legislation reflected long-standing themes about gender roles, individualism, and social responsibility. The essay by noted historian Linda Gordon is particularly worthwhile.

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      • Besharov, Douglas J., ed. 2003. Family and child well-being after welfare reform. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.

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        Edited by a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, this volume examines a wide range of economic and social indicators to assess the impact of welfare reform on the recipients of public assistance and their children. It presents a more conservative perspective than similar studies conducted by the Urban Institute.

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      • Blank, Roberta 2002. Evaluating welfare reform in the United States. Journal of Economic Literature 40.4:1105–1166.

        DOI: 10.1257/002205102762203576Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        In-depth article that discusses the various processes and criteria by which welfare reform has been evaluated; synthesizes a wide range of studies conducted during the first five years of its implementation. Essential reading for understanding the current status of welfare reform and for debating future policy options.

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      • Borjas, George. 2002. The impact of welfare reform on immigrant welfare use. Washington, DC: Center for Immigrant Studies.

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        Useful assessment of the effects of welfare reform. Focuses on the ways welfare reform affects immigrants’ overall use of the welfare system. Also compares states’ implementation strategies and the legislation’s consequences for immigrants’ use of services not directly addressed by welfare reform.

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      • Fink, Barbara, and Rebecca Widom. 2001. Social service organizations and welfare reform. New York: Manpower Demonstration Research Organization.

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        Addresses an often overlooked issue: the impact of welfare reform on the public and nonprofit agencies responsible for its implementation. As other research discovered, they struggled to adapt to the rapidly changing demands created by the legislation, altered their traditional character, and often could not survive the reforms.

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      • Marchevsky, Andreas, and Jeanne Theoharis. 2006. Not working: Latina immigrants, low-wage jobs, and the failure of welfare reform. New York: New York University Press.

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        By focusing on how welfare reform affects a specific population (Latina immigrants) in a specific area (New York), this book highlights the problems of a group that often receives less attention than other welfare recipients. Places the issue in the context of inadequate wages, high unemployment, and anti-immigrant discrimination.

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      • Piven, Frances F., Joan Acker, Margaret Hallock, and S. Morgen, eds. 2002. Work, welfare and politics: Confronting poverty in the wake of welfare reform. Eugene: University of Oregon Press.

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        Places welfare reform in the broader context of economic globalization, the transformation of American politics, the changing nature of communities, policy devolution, the status of women and racial minorities in US society, increases in socioeconomic inequality and chronic poverty, and the legislation’s effect on the nonprofit sector.

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      • Schram, Sanford F., Joe Soss, and Richard C. Fording, eds. 2003. Race and the politics of welfare reform. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

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        Addresses the ways in which racial attitudes shaped the debate over welfare reform. It discusses the historical roots of this phenomenon and its manifestations in the media, political discourse, state reform efforts that antedated PRWORA, the design of the legislation, and the ways in which it was implemented.

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      • Weil, Alan, and Kenneth Feingold, eds. 2002. Welfare reform: The next act. Washington, DC: Urban Institute Press.

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        A compilation of analyses on the wide-ranging consequences of the 1996 welfare reform legislation (PRWORA), based on research conducted by staff at the Urban Institute. It is a valuable collection because it demonstrates the multidimensional components of the legislation, its effects on different segments of the US population, and its relationship with other areas of social policy.

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      International and Comparative Perspectives

      Although books with a comparative perspective are included in some of the more specialized categories listed previously, works that reflect international and comparative perspectives on a broad range of 21st-century social policy issues are useful for several reasons. First, unlike most works that focus exclusively on US social policy, these works place contemporary policy developments in historical perspective and in the context of recent phenomena such as economic globalization, European integration, social exclusion, national and local politics, and the evolution of the welfare state. Good examples of such works are Macarov 2003 and Esping-Andersen 2002. Second, they provide insights into the nature, extent, and consequences of so-called American exceptionalism in the area of social policy. Books that are particularly useful in this regard include Ferguson, et al. 2005, George and Wilding 2002, and Sodersten 2004. Third, because these international and comparative studies often include contributions from authors with diverse national backgrounds, they present (directly or by implication) alternative solutions to economic and social issues that are often not considered by policy makers in the United States. A book that contributes in this manner is Greve 2006. The journals Global Social Policy and the International Journal of Social Welfare, and E Library for Global Welfare are also valuable for these reasons.

      • E Library for Global Welfare.

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        Comprehensive website that includes links to statistics, reports, and other publications pertaining to social welfare policies and the issues they address around the world. A useful starting point for searches on the current state of social welfare and its relationship to economic globalization.

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        • Esping-Andersen, Gosta. 2002. Why we need a new welfare state. New York: Oxford University Press.

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          Makes a powerful argument that the premises of the 20th-century welfare state have fundamentally changed as a result of dramatic economic and demographic transformation. Instead of dismantling the welfare state, however, the authors propose ways in which it can be modified to reflect these new realities.

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        • Ferguson, Iain, Michael Lavalette, and Elizabeth Whitmore, eds. 2005. Globalisation, global justice, and social work. London: Routledge.

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          Focuses on the economic, social, and political impact of neoliberalism on social welfare policy and social work practice around the world. Edited by British scholars, it includes essays that discuss these phenomena on every continent and proposes social justice–oriented strategies to counter them.

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        • George, Victor, and Paul Wilding. 2002. Globalization and human welfare. New York: Palgrave.

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          Analyzes the relationship between the transformation of the global economy and the means by which governments can address the changing nature of human need. Assesses the ideological, political, and social consequences of globalization and contrasts the different approaches proposed to address human welfare in the 21st century.

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        • global Social Policy.

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          Multidisciplinary journal includes articles and reports that emphasize the historic and contemporary relationship between economic globalization and social development. Focuses on the connection between the processes of globalization and social policies designed to address them. The journal’s articles, written by authors in the public, private, and private nongovernmental sectors, present these issues from a variety of theoretical and political perspectives.

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        • Greve, Bent. 2006. The future of the welfare state: European and global perspectives. Burlington, VT: Ashgate.

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          Examines how contemporary economic, political, demographic, and social trends are promoting a reexamination of the underlying assumptions, goals, and structure of the welfare state. Valuable for the range of issues it addresses and for its inclusion of non-Western perspectives on policy development.

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        • International Journal of Social Welfare.

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          Interdisciplinary articles address the impact of major social forces worldwide—such as demographic trends, migration patterns, and the globalization of the economy—on social welfare policies and social work practices. From various disciplinary perspectives, they focus on the experiences of various nations and integrate analyses of policy and practice.

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        • Macarov, David. 2003. What the market does to people: Privatization, globalization, and poverty. London: Zed Books.

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          Contains a critical analysis of the impact of globalization on both macro and micro levels. Discusses how the phenomenon of globalization has transformed the nature of property, the relationship between government and the market, public attitudes about poverty and human need, and societal approaches to social welfare.

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        • Sodersten, Bö, ed. 2004. Globalization and the welfare state. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

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          Essays providing a variety of perspectives on how globalization is altering the ideological foundations, parameters, goals, and financing and delivery mechanisms of welfare state provision. It presents a more mainstream analysis than Ferguson, et al. 2005 and is primarily written from a Western viewpoint.

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        LAST MODIFIED: 12/27/2010

        DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780195389678-0087

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