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Area Policy and Area Strategies: The Origins and Lessons of the British Experience

Kenneth Pardey (Department of Sociology, University of Stirling)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 1 February 1982



The cardinal point to note here is that the development (and unfortunately the likely potential) of area policy is intimately related to the actual character of British social policy. Whilst area policy has been strongly influenced by Pigou's welfare economics, by the rise of scientific management in the delivery of social services (cf Jaques 1976; Whittington and Bellamy 1979), by the accompanying development of operational analyses and by the creation of social economics (see Pigou 1938; Sandford 1977), social policy continues to be enmeshed with the flavours of Benthamite utilitatianism and Social Darwinism (see, above all, the Beveridge Report 1942; Booth 1889; Rowntree 1922, 1946; Webb 1926). Consequently, for their entire history area policies have been coloured by the principles of a national minimum for the many and giving poorer areas a hand up, rather than a hand out. The preceived need to save money (C.S.E. State Apparatus and Expenditure Group 1979; Klein 1974) and the (supposed) ennobling effects of self help have been the twin marching orders for area policy for decades. Private industry is inadvertently called upon to plug the resulting gaps in public provision. The conjunction of a reluctant state and a meandering private sector has fashioned the decaying urban areas of today. Whilst a large degree of party politics and commitment has characterised the general debate over the removal of poverty (Holman 1973; MacGregor 1981), this has for the most part bypassed the ‘marginal’ poorer areas (cf Green forthcoming). Their inhabitants are not usually numerically significant enough to sway general, party policies (cf Boulding 1967) and the problems of most notably the inner cities has been underplayed.


Pardey, K. (1982), "Area Policy and Area Strategies: The Origins and Lessons of the British Experience", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 2 No. 2, pp. 1-41.




Copyright © 1982, MCB UP Limited

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