Handbook of Social Policy and Development
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Handbook of Social Policy and Development

Edited by James Midgley, Rebecca Surender and Laura Alfers

The Handbook of Social Policy and Development makes a groundbreaking, coherent case for enhancing collaboration between social policy and development. With wide ranging chapters, it discusses a myriad of ways in which this can be done, exploring both academic and practical activities. As the conventional distinction between ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ countries becomes increasingly blurred, this Handbook explores how collaboration between social policy and development is needed to meet global social needs.
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Chapter 3: Shaping society from below: social movements, social policy and development

Laura Alfers


This chapter provides an overview of key debates surrounding social movements in the social policy and development literatures. It reviews the development literature relating to social movements, highlighting the major theoretical shifts which have occurred, and which have led to significant changes in the way social movements are understood within processes of social change. The chapter then looks at social movements and social policy in the development context, concluding with a reflection on the possibility for cross-disciplinary learning between the fields of development and social policy. It argues that the development literature may benefit from the use of tools developed within the study of social policy to produce closer and more nuanced understandings of the ways in which social movements are able to contribute to material social change. At the same time, there is much for social policy to take from the development literature focused on social movements. Its ability to grasp a difference from the modernist world in which the discipline of social policy originally developed brings with it a challenge to more deeply consider the ways in which the very different realities of the Global South may impact on the theoretical assumptions which have traditionally underpinned social policy scholarship.

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