This journal is concerned with the consequences of globalisation for social policy. Increasingly, the globe has become the reference point, whether for someone employed in a transnational organisation, eating foods from distant countries, or receiving media images from many miles away. Such shrinkage of the world and attendant interdependence pose profound challenges. At the latest Labour Party conference, Tony Blair recognised the paradox that globalisation creates:
"We've never been more interdependent in our needs; and we've never been more individualistic in our outlook."
If social policy is conceived in terms of activities aimed at modifying market forces to influence distribution of resources, regulation of life, and the rights and obligations of citizens, then it must respond to globalisation. For this reason, Global Social Policy is to be welcomed. It announces a break with the provincialism and state-centric emphasis of much British social policy that made the subject so pedestrian in the past.
This journal proposes various levels and modes of analysis: the global and intergovernmental (such as the World Bank), the regional (such as the European Union), the transnational (such as non-governmental organisations), as well as more conventional comparative approaches. Edited by an undisputed star of the field, Bob Deacon, it is emphatically multidisciplinary in its approach, while its editorial board shows an impressive international range of scholars and practitioners. Each issue contains three articles, all playing to the theme of globalisation. One might imagine that this would limit the journal's appeal, but such is the capaciousness of the concept that it can comfortably include examinations of Bangladesh and Korea alongside reflections on the role of the United Nations and the International Labour Organisation. On the basis of articles here, one can testify to high academic standards and stimulating subject matter.
Global Social Policy has also been designed to include two useful innovations. First, there is a regular global social policy forum, in which experts provide short statements on a given topic. The intention is to stimulate debate and sharper thinking. Subjects such as the North-South divide are approached in this way. They will be provocative to researchers and highly accessible to the merely curious. Next, each issue contains a global social policy digest, which reviews conferences and events. This too will be of enormous value. In addition, at least ten pages of each issue are given over to book reviews (a must in any respectable journal), while all articles - written in English - carry summaries in French and Spanish.
This journal is characteristic of recent Sage productions. It has a strong editorial team, is beautifully printed, and is electronically accessible to institutions with a print subscription. There is only one editor, and I worry that he will not be able to sustain such high-quality output on his own, but for now one must urge that Global Social Policy be on the list of all good academic libraries.
Frank Webster is professor of sociology, City University.
Global Social Policy: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Public Policy and Social Development
Editor - Bob Deacon
ISBN - ISSN 1468 0181
Publisher - Sage
Price - Institutions £190.00, Individuals £36.00
Pages - (three times a year)