This book is about individualist ideas, and how they shape contemporary approaches to public policy. If we were to believe the existing literature, we might think that only markets can satisfy people's needs, and that any collective concept of welfare compromises individual welfare. The price mechanism is taken to be the best way to allocate resources, and it is assumed that individualised responses to need must be better than general ones. Reclaiming individualism reviews the scope of individualist approaches, and considers how they apply to issues of policy. It argues for a concept of individualism based on rights, human dignity, shared interests and social protection. A valuable resource for those working or studying in social or public policy, this book is a powerful restatement of some of the key values that led to individualism being such a force in the first place.
Paul Spicker is Grampian Chair of Public Policy at the Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen. His research has included studies of poverty, need, disadvantage and service delivery. His books on the theory of social policy include Stigma and social welfare, The welfare state: a general theory and Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.