This book describes a basic distinction between idealist and non-idealist social theories, and charts some of the divergent prescriptions about the objectives and scope of ‘social policy’ that they have begotten. It seeks to construct and substantiate an argument about the properties of the theories in question and the priorities apparent in both social policy studies and social policy itself over time. It has also a more limited analytical concern with divergent ideas and images of welfare which is born out of a conviction that from the history of ideas in the field of social policy, past and present, springs genuine enlightenment for today. It is concerned with a fundamental contrast in the kind of social theory influencing social policy. An overview of the chapters included in this book is finally presented.
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