Do-It-Yourself Social Policy: Searching for a new paradigm?

J I Millar, Rudolf Klein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One of the most significant trends of recent decades has been the growing importance of do-it-yourself social policy: i.e. individuals constructing their own welfare mix both within the public sector and in private markets. This paper argues that this challenges the traditional top-down bias of social policy studies and requires a shift of focus within the discipline. The implications for normative theory, research strategy and policy analysis are explored. Some of the arguments for and against choice as a guiding principle are sketched out; some existing research on bent@ take-up and choice in education and health
is reviewed and the case for moving away from the economist's simple model of rationality is put forward. Finally, we argue, there should be more emphasis in social policy on developing a better understanding of the way in which individuals take their decisions, the context of public policy within which they act and the interaction between the two.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-316
Number of pages14
JournalSocial Policy and Administration
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1995


  • UK, Social Policy, Choice, Decision-making


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