Complexity, Institutions and Public Policy
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Complexity, Institutions and Public Policy

Agile Decision-Making in a Turbulent World

Graham Room

Graham Room argues that conventional approaches to the conceptualisation and measurement of social and economic change are unsatisfactory. As a result, researchers are ill-equipped to offer policy advice. This book offers a new analytical approach, combining complexity science and institutionalism.
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Chapter 15: Poverty and Social Exclusion

Graham Room


15.1 INTRODUCTION Chapter 1 described the unsatisfactory state of social policy research, as far as the conceptualisation and measurement of dynamic change are concerned. I illustrated this argument by reference to two areas of policy research in which I have been involved over a number of years. In the present chapter and that which follows, I consider the implications of the present study for research and policy in these two areas. This makes perhaps for a somewhat heterogeneous agenda – the dynamics of social exclusion and policy indicators of the knowledge economy. Nevertheless, Part 3 does not pretend to be a systematic application to the policy world of the concepts and methods developed in Parts 1 and 2. A substantial body of research has been undertaken in recent decades, both nationally and internationally, into poverty and social exclusion. This reveals some broadly similar shifts in the map of poverty in the second half of the twentieth century, as far as the advanced industrial societies of the West are concerned (for example, the shift in the risk of poverty from the older population to those of working age) but also some stability (for example, the league table of national poverty rates across the countries of the EU) (Room, 1990: Ch. 3; Ramprakash, 1994; Marlier et al., 2007). Nevertheless, these have been turbulent times, with global economic restructuring, welfare ‘recalibration’ and concerns about new lines of social polarisation. Scholars have investigated these stabilities and shifts in part through the longitudinal analysis of household...

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