The Politics and Policy of Wellbeing

The Politics and Policy of Wellbeing

Understanding the Rise and Significance of a New Agenda

Ian Bache and Louise Reardon

Government interest in wellbeing as an explicit goal of public policy has increased significantly in recent years, leading to new developments in measuring wellbeing and initiatives aimed specifically at enhancing wellbeing. This book provides the first theoretically informed account of the rise and significance of this agenda, drawing on the multiple streams approach, to consider whether wellbeing can be described as ‘an idea whose time has come’. It reflects on developments across the globe and provides a detailed comparative analysis of two political arenas: the UK and the EU.

Chapter 5: Wellbeing in policy

Ian Bache and Louise Reardon

Subjects: politics and public policy, european politics and policy, international politics, public policy, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, sociology and sociological theory, urban and regional studies, transport


Chapter 5 turns to the second main question of the book – what are the policy implications of the rising political interest in the idea of wellbeing for policy? In addressing this question the chapter focuses on developments at the UK level, where there is high-level political commitment to using wellbeing in policy and where policy developments are seen as among the most advanced in the world. We employ Hall’s framework of social learning to analyse UK policy developments, highlighting different policy variables and the prospect for different orders of change, specifically reflecting on the potential for fundamental realignment of most aspects of policy development or ‘paradigm change’.

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