Risk, Social Inclusion and the Life Course – A Social Policy Perspective (Seed Grant)
In recent years social policy in modern industrialised societies has been challenged by new social risks1. Developments such as increasingly volatile labour markets, the growing participation of women in the labour market, and greater human life-expectancy challenge the presumption in much of existing social policy of a standardised, relatively stable and predictable life course. Many social welfare institutions and government policies still focus on specific life phases and transitions ignoring the complexity and fragmentation of life courses and the relationships between early and later transitions.2 Instead, social policy should address these characteristics of life in contemporary societies of a globalising world.
This project aims to establish a new research perspective on social policy which brings to bear three significant perspectives: risk, social inclusion and the life course in order to provide new insights to inform policy development. Three workshops in 2010 will provide a focus for informed debate amongst academics, practitioners and politicians about a new policy perspective on social inequality informed by these core concepts. We aim to develop a number of research projects from these discussions that will represent a cutting edge research agenda on social policy.
This initiative contributes to the emerging Equity Institute at The University of Melbourne and is linked to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL) and the University of Melbourne to develop a program of research aimed at developing policies that promote social inclusion across the life course.
1 Taylor-Gooby, Peter (ed.) 2004: New Risks, New Welfare. The Transformation of the European Welfare State, Oxford University Press.
Bovenberg, A. Lans 2008: The Life-course Perspective and Social Policies: An Overview about the Issues.
2 OECD 2007: Modernising Social Policy for the New Life Course. Paris: OECD.
Risk, Social Inclusion and the Life Course - A Social Policy Perspective will provide a new policy and research framework that enables stakeholders to recognise:
- Changing patterns of life course across different populations
- The points of transition across the life-course at which individuals are most vulnerable to risk
- Factors that enhance social inclusion across the life course
- Similarities and differences in transition points across the life course
- The relevance of local contextual factors (community, public transport, access to professionals, employment) on the wellbeing of individuals across the life course