The business-social policy nexus: Corporate power and corporate inputs into social policy


It is increasingly impossible to understand and explain the shape and delivery of contemporary social policy unless we consider the role of business. Several factors have been at work here. First, many of the changes in social policy introduced since the 1970s have been in response either to business demands or more general concerns about national competitiveness and the needs of business. Second, globalisation has increased corporate power within states, leading to transformations in social and fiscal policies. Third, business has been incorporated into the management of many areas of the welfare state by governments keen to control expenditure and introduce private sector values into services. Fourth, welfare services, from hospitals to schools, have been increasingly opened up to private markets. Despite all this, the issues of business influence and involvement in social policy has been neglected in the literature. This article seeks to place corporate power and influence centre-stage by outlining and critically reflecting on the place of business within contemporary welfare states, with a particular focus on the UK. Business, it argues, is increasingly important to welfare outcomes and needs to be taken into account more fully within the social policy literature

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