Social policy in Europe: paradigms of change

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Social policy research deploys a variety of approaches for analysing processes of dynamic change but these face major limitations. This article argues for an institutionally grounded complexity analysis, bringing together the historical institutionalism of Pierson (2004) and Crouch (2005) and the treatment of dynamically coupled adaptive systems by Kauffman (1993; 1995) and Potts (2000). It concludes that, at the very least, social policy researchers will need to make a considered assessment of these complexity-based approaches, as they invade an increasing area of the social sciences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-352
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of European Social Policy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008


  • path dependency
  • dynamics
  • complexity
  • historical institutionalism


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