Social values are clearly an important influence on the development and administration of social policies. In discussions about social values, however, different political groupings use the same words but with different meanings. This article compares and contrasts ‘ideal-type’ liberal and socialist conceptions of the three social values of freedom, individualism and equality. It then goes on to discuss how far social policy reflects these differing conceptions. The conclusion drawn is that, so far as social policy is concerned, in the clashes between liberal and socialist conceptions of social values liberal values tend to emerge as dominant.
* Parts of this article form part of a chapter in a forthcoming book, Ideology and Social Welfare, by Paul Wilding and Vic George, to be published by Routledge and Kegan Paul this autumn.
† Lecturer in Social Administration, University of Nottingham.
‡ Professor of Social Administration, University of Kent at Canterbury.