1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Back | Programme Area: Social Policy and Development (2000 - 2009)

Social Policy and Macroeconomic Performance: Integrating "the Economic" and "the Social" (Draft)



The quotation marks placed around "the economic" and "the social" alert us to the fact that this is an abstract duality. People do not live their lives in two separate domains. The aspects of life that we label "economic" and "social" are intertwined. The policies we label "economic" and "social" each have ramifications for both dimensions. Social policy is economic policy, but at the same time, economic policy is social policy.
Nevertheless, the distinctions do relate to some real divisions and are grounded in the different rhythms and modalities of market-based capital accumulation (the commodity economy) on the one hand, and non-market-based social reproduction (the unpaid care economy), on the other. There are different institutional responsibilities for economic policy and social policy; different policy analysis communities; different interest groups lobbying. The standard neo-liberal approach overemphasized these differences, and assumed that each strand of policy could be pursued independently of the other. Moreover, social policy was seen as a residual, only required to deal with the widows and orphans, the lame and the sick.

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