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Responding to the Troubled Families Programme: framing the injuries of inequality

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/01/2017
<mark>Journal</mark>Social Policy and Society
Issue number1
Volume16
Number of pages10
Pages (from-to)155-164
Publication statusPublished
Early online date9/09/16
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Government initiatives such as the Troubled Families Programme present a difficult problem for social scientists: how to discuss the policies without accepting and appearing to legitimise the problematic framing of social problems that they embody. The programme is characteristically neoliberal in its silence on structural inequality and in its targeting of certain families as deficient and wholly responsible for their situation. Like so many such programmes, its primary addressee is arguably not merely those targeted by the policies but the wider electorate. The paper discusses the dilemmas of challenging the policy's framing. First it makes some general points about the different characters of political and academic discourses, before examining some key features of the framing of TFP, its conceptualisation of social causes of problems and individual responsibility, and how social scientists might respond. It then draws upon the work of George Lakoff to comment on how the impact of policy and political discourse depends on the kinds of value systems it invokes, before concluding.