Journal of Social Policy

Good-enough Principles for Welfare

FIONA WILLIAMS Professor of Social Policy a1 1
a1 University of Leeds, LS2 9JT.


The aim of this article is to widen the grounds of the debate on the relationship between values, social change and welfare reform. In the public debate on welfare reform and the Third Way the significance of the welfare politics and campaigns of civil society in challenging the old welfare order has received little acknowledgement. The article argues that these politics and campaigns have, along with both the New Right and New Labour, attempted to construct a new vision of an ‘active welfare subject’. In the process they have also expanded the moral repertoire for understanding people's engagement with welfare beyond the self-interest/altruism dichotomy. The article uses this new repertoire to propose seven key principles for a reordering of the social relations of welfare.


1 I am very grateful to Jean Carabine, John Clarke, Alan Deacon, Ruth Lister and Jennie Popay for their helpful comments on earlier drafts, and the Open University ‘Rethinking Social Policy’ Group for their discussion.