White Rose University Consortium logo
University of Leeds logo University of Sheffield logo York University logo

Ontological Social Policy Analysis: An investigation into the ontological assumptions underpinning the social security reforms of the UK Coalition Government 2010-2015

Newman, Jack (2019) Ontological Social Policy Analysis: An investigation into the ontological assumptions underpinning the social security reforms of the UK Coalition Government 2010-2015. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

[img]
Preview
Text (Full thesis manuscript)
Newman_J_POLIS_UoLeeds_PhD_2019.pdf - Final eThesis - complete (pdf)
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales.

Download (1422Kb) | Preview

Abstract

This thesis builds from a central premise: all social policy, like all social research, relies on a number of assumptions about the fundamental nature of social reality and human existence. These assumptions are ‘ontological’ in the sense that ‘ontology’ is the philosophy of being and existence. Ontological assumptions are effectively the positions we take in response to the fundamental, unavoidable, and controversial questions from which human understanding proceeds. These questions include: ‘is there an objective social reality?’; ‘do we have free-will?’; ‘are we the product of our social context?’; and ‘are institutions and cultures causally significant?’. It is increasingly accepted in the academic literature that these questions are a crucial aspect of social research, because they are the base level upon which knowledge is built. And yet, despite this acceptance, the academic literature largely ignores the role of ontological assumptions in policy making. It is the central argument of this thesis that ontological assumptions are a crucial aspect of social policy making. As well as asserting the importance of ontological assumptions in social policy, the thesis develops a critical realist framework for their analysis. This framework is named ‘ontological social policy analysis’, and it is applied here to UK social security policy. The empirical research takes the form of a textual analysis and considers a number of key social policy documents. The analysis begins with the post-2005 ‘modernisation’ projects in the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats, and then goes on to consider their time in office as coalition partners (2010-2015), with a particular focus on the DWP and its flagship reform, Universal Credit. In the course of the analysis, a number of ontological contradictions are unearthed, each of which has the potential to significantly undermine the effectiveness of the policy reforms. Such findings demonstrate both the possibility and fecundity of ‘ontological social policy analysis’.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Related URLs:
Keywords: Ontology; social policy; public policy analysis; UK Coalition Government; UK Conservative Party; welfare ideology; morphogenetic theory; critical realism; structure-agency; material-ideational.
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds) > School of Politics & International Studies (POLIS) (Leeds)
Depositing User: Dr Jack Newman
Date Deposited: 26 Jun 2019 14:37
Last Modified: 26 Jun 2019 14:37
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/23899

You do not need to contact us to get a copy of this thesis. Please use the 'Download' link(s) above to get a copy.
You can contact us about this thesis. If you need to make a general enquiry, please see the Contact us page.

Actions (repository staff only: login required)