Copyright Sociological Research Online, 2000


Responding to Poverty: The Politics of Cash and Care

Saul Becker
Addison Wesley Longman: Harlow
1997
0 582 24322 X (pb)
12.99 (pb)
xii + 224

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This book, part of the 'social policy in Britain' series edited by Jo Campling, is a very welcome addition to the literature. Aimed at the undergraduate market, the text has already found its way onto the reading lists of both introductory courses in Soc ial Policy, Sociology and Social Work and the more specialist ones considering poverty and social exclusion in some depth. Like others in this series this book is likely to become a classic teaching text and run into many editions. The book contains a v ery welcome and important list of source documents as an appendix. These include Michael Portillo on the public sector, Frank Field on poverty and welfare reform, Griffiths' report on public finance for residential and nursing home care and Peter Lilley's now (in)famous 'little list'.

The introduction plainly states that the book is about 'poverty and the poor in Britain' (p.xi). It is about ' what poor people can expect to receive from the state in terms of 'cash and care', and what they must give in return' (p. xii). His framework for analysis then is that poverty and social exclusion are the responses to social reactions and wider are the consequence of individual attitudes, structures and practices. The book first provides a well-written and accessible chapter on the social cons truction of poverty with a particular focus upon the 1980s and 1990s. It then moves on to outline the issues, debates and disagreements over definitions of poverty. Chapter 3 provides the historical context for the argument contained within the next thr ee chapters, the core of the text. Each of these chapters in turn, focus upon a specific area of policy: social security, social services and social work and social services and community care. His final chapter called 'responding to poverty' outlines h is model for the better understanding of the complex dynamic between cash, care and poverty.

Tony Maltby
University of Birmingham

Copyright Sociological Research Online, 2000