Working Paper Series

Working Paper Series

The Department of Social Policy multidisciplinary working paper series publishes high quality research papers across the broad field of social policy.


Social entrepreneurship before neoliberalism? The life and work of Akhtar Hameed Khan
David Lewis

The life history method can be used to historicise the study of social and public policy. Reviewing the life and work of Pakistani social entrepreneur A.H. Khan provides a useful reminder that what Jyoti Sharma recently termed ‘the neoliberal takeover of social entrepreneurship’ is a relatively recent phenomenon. While Khan’s achievements across the public and non-governmental (NGO) sectors continue to be debated amongst scholars and activists in South Asia, his life and work – which is not well known in the Global North as it perhaps should be – highlights a much broader and more inclusive way of thinking about the social entrepreneur as an organiser of change.

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A different perspective on the evolution of UK income inequality
A.B. Atkinson and Stephen P. Jenkins

This paper scrutinizes the conventional wisdom about trends in UK income inequality and also places contemporary inequality in a much longer historical perspective. We combine household survey and income tax data to provide better coverage of all income ranges from the bottom to the very top. We make a case for studying distributions of income between tax units (i.e. not assuming the full income sharing that goes with the use of the household as the unit of analysis) for reasons of principle as well as data harmonization. We present evidence that income inequality in the UK is as least as high today as it was just before the start of World War 2.

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Perspectives on poverty in Europe
Stephen P. Jenkins

I address four topics: how our capacities to monitor poverty in Europe have improved substantially over recent decades; how progress on EU poverty reduction has been disappointing and why this has been; conceptual and measurement issues; and the future direction of EU-level anti-poverty actions. I follow in the footsteps of a giant – my perspectives are essentially elaborations of points made by Tony Atkinson.

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What are the factors that lead to the disengagement in activism over an individual's lifetime in the Global South?
Daniel Silver

MSc Dissertation

In light of the limited social movement literature, this paper aims to hypothesise the reasons why individuals in the Global South disengage from activism, making activism unsustainable over a lifetime. The paper analyses the reasons put forward by scholars to explain initial activist participation, inferring from this that four lenses are vital to utilise in order to understand why disengagement may occur. Through these four lenses: (1) the political economy of activism; (2) the socio-cultural pressures of the Global South; (3) the issue of identity construction and (4) a post-structuralist lens to further examine the importance of the construction of identity and collective action frames, it is demonstrated that particular structural and cultural pressures exist in the Global South which limit individuals from sustaining activism over their lifetime. It is concluded that activism in the Global South should be regarded with caution. Rather than assuming that activism may lead to change, it should be considered more soberly, taking into account the considerable barriers that individuals face in the context of the Global South.

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NGOs and the success paradox: Gay activism 'after' HIV/AIDS in China
Timothy Hildebrandt

What happens to NGOs when they succeed in meeting key goals, when the issues around which activists mobilize are no longer of interest to those granting them economic and political opportunities? How do they deal with success? This paper presents the case of gay activism in China, which has risen largely because of HIV/AIDS. While the virus persists, international interest has waned, resulting in fewer opportunities for gay activists in the country. The paper draws upon insights of gay activists’ responses in the US and Europe and formulates hypotheses for how Chinese gay activism might navigate the success paradox. It explores potential adaptive techniques by viewing them through a political economy lens of gay activism in China, demonstrating how context-specific conditions might limit the options for NGOs dealing with success. In doing so, it contains important insights for NGOs and civil society beyond China and LGBT rights.

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External guidelines

The Working Paper Series welcomes submissions from academic staff, visiting fellows, and post-graduate students. PhD students wishing to publish their paper in the Series are required to have an email of support from their supervisor. We encourage supervisors and exam boards to nominate especially strong MSc dissertations (e.g., those receiving Departmental prizes) for an invitation to publish in the Series.

We encourage all authors to ensure that pre-publishing their research as a working paper will not jeopardize their chances of publishing in peer-review journals. This varies across disciplines and journals; the Social Policy Working Paper Series is not responsible for making these checks 

Submissions should be sent to and must include:

  1. an abstract of 100-300 words that describes the research question, methods, and findings; we encourage abstracts to be written in a manner that is easily understood by non-experts.
  2. 3 -6 keywords for indexing
  3. Author contact details and short biography.

Should you have any questions regarding the submission process or suitability of a potential paper, please contact a member of the editorial board.


Editorial Board: Dr Timothy Hildebrandt and Professor Lucinda Platt

Editorial Administrator: Abi Black