Getting in, being heard, and influencing change: The labours of policy engagement in employment and social security research

Hayley Bennett, Katy Jones

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract / Description of output

UK employment policy is at a critical juncture; the effects of Covid-19 and Brexit on the labour market have heightened pre-existing and created new employment and income inequalities. Such experiences (and related temporary government policy responses) play out alongside the long-term roll-out of Universal Credit, a social security policy that imposes conditionality on a range of individuals, including people who are in work. As Universal Credit has the potential to transform power dynamics between individuals, the state and employers, revisiting and questioning the direction of Active Labour Market Policies (ALMPs) should unite the interests of diverse social security and employment researchers (including scholars of Human Resource Management, Sociology of Work and Industrial Relations). Policymakers should draw on an abundance of research to reform the UK’s ALMPs and avoid replicating the problems of narrowly conceived work-first programmes and practices. In this chapter, we explore the role of social policy researchers in influencing policy change, reflecting on our own experiences as early career researchers. We advocate a ‘pragmatic realist’ approach to policy engagement and reflect on different approaches to operating at the evidence-policy interface. While we advocate for social policy researchers to engage with research methods and knowledge exchange practices to increase the uptake of research and expertise, we do not believe this is a one-way process and we also contend that policymakers and practitioners have a responsibility to open up to critical evaluation and policy insights from the social policy community.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSocial Policy Review 34
Subtitle of host publicationAnalysis and Debate in Social Policy 2022
EditorsAndy Jolly, Ruggero Cefalo, Marco Pomati
Place of PublicationBristol
PublisherPolicy Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781447366553
ISBN (Print)9781447365792
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2022

Publication series

NameSocial Policy Review
PublisherPolicy Press

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • social policy


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