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Interpretative and constructionist accounts: their usefulness for understanding 'social problems'

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Jacobs, K ORCID: 0000-0002-1377-0069 2018 , 'Interpretative and constructionist accounts: their usefulness for understanding 'social problems'' , SocietaMutamentoPolitica, vol. 9, no. 18 , pp. 175-188 , doi: 10.13128/SMP-24345.

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Abstract

Whilst there are very few academics who would advocate a wholly positive approach to the study of social problems, there is a tendency to valorise supposedly objective, quantitative studies in the field of social policy. This tendency has been reinforced by the government's demand for research that provides 'evidence'. Briefly stated, governments now encourage researchers to identify causal components underpinning problems such as homelessness and then make policy recommendations to ameliorate them. In this paper I consider the merits of the contribution of constructionist perspectives for social policy research that challenge hegemonic understandings of social problems. I begin by tracing some of the influential critiques that emerge from the 1970s onwards including symbolic interactionism, Foucauldian inspired discourse analysis, constructionism and more recently actor network theory. Noting both their limitations and strengths. Finally, the paper considers the future tasks for critically oriented social policy scholarships at a time of increasing austerity and social polarization. Can constructionist and other interpretive accounts provide insights for understanding the failures that beset contemporary policy making in areas such as housing? scholarship at the time of increasing austerity and social polarization. Can constructionist and other interpretive accounts provide insights for understanding the failures that beset contemporary policy making in areas such as housing? scholarship at the time of increasing austerity and social polarization. Can constructionist and other interpretive accounts provide insights for understanding the failures that beset contemporary policy making in areas such as housing?

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Jacobs, K
Keywords: social problems, social policy, symbolic interactionism, Foucauldian discourse analysis
Journal or Publication Title: SocietaMutamentoPolitica
Publisher: Firenze University Press
ISSN: 2038-3150
DOI / ID Number: 10.13128/SMP-24345
Copyright Information:

© 2018 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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