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What's Your Problem?

Tags: Social Work

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What's Your Problem?

Making Sense of Social Problems and the Policy Process

AUTHOR : By Stuart Connor

ISBN : 9781909330498

Edition No : 1

Publication : Sep 2, 2013

Extent : 144 pgs

ISBN : 9781909330504

Edition No : 1

Publication : Sep 2, 2013

Extent : 144 pgs

ISBN : 9781909330511

Edition No : 1

Publication : Sep 2, 2013

Extent : 144 pgs

ISBN : 9781909330528

Edition No : 1

Publication : Sep 2, 2013

Extent : 144 pgs


This lively book provides an essential introduction to the critical analysis of social problems and the policy process. It argues that policy does not just have an impact of people’s lives, but that people can and should have an impact on policy.

Rather than assuming that social policies reflect an inevitable response to pre-existing givens, the author adopts a more proactive position to show how a ‘problem’ is fabricated and how a particular response to a ‘problem’ is legitimated. He goes on to demonstrate how the struggle over the meaning and desirable response to a range of social issues continues to take place not only in Parliament, but across broadcast and print media and the numerous internet channels.  The book provides students, practitioners and activists with a rationale for and means to read, write and perform policy analysis.

Drawing on the notion of policy literacy, readers will be introduced to a range of resources to enable them to further develop the ability to both read (comprehend), write (create, design, produce) and perform (influence and shape) policies. The book is illustrated throughout with examples from historical and contemporary representations of social problems and local, national and global policy making and practice. Each section will make reference to a toolkit that tutors, student and activists can access to help inform their practice.


Presented in an accessible format, the book  demonstrates that making sense of social issues and the policy process, also means making sense of some of the fundamental questions, values and assumptions of how is / should society be organised and our own role in the shaping of society. In this way the book not only provides practical and critical insights into the policy process, but is also an intellectually challenging and stimulating read.



Section 1 - Reading policy

Chapter 1 - Making claims and using frames 

Chapter 2 - Equivalence and difference

Chapter 3 - Legitimate assumptions 

Section 2 - Writing policy

Chapter 4 - The role of the analyst

Chapter 5 - What do you think?

Chapter 6 - Making your case

Section 3 - Performaing Policy

Chapter 7 - Models of the Policy Process

Chapter 8 - Power and Influence

Chapter 9 - Making a difference



Stuart Connor is a lecturer in social policy at the University of Birmingham. His teaching and research interests include critical approaches to the analysis of contemporary social policy and practice.  This work includes examining the role of governments, trade unions, NGOs, social movements and community practitioners in the fabrication of ‘social problems’ and attempts to legitimate and challenge particular policy responses.


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Your Reviews on this book

Yes, law and policy as supplementary reading. I like the fact it is small
and offers a different approach to most books looking at social policy.

Liam Foster, University of Sheffield

The book is very thought provoking and potentially helpful to Social Work Students grappling with the broad menu of social policy issues. I would recommend this as background reading. The book essentially sets out to 'demystify' social policy in a suitably robust yet engaging way that should lead readers to see the world around them in a slightly clearer manner regarding politics, policy and media/cultural/community drivers for change.

Scott Parker, University of Northampton
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