Adams_AJPA_2002.pdf (54.3 kB)
Sir George Murray essay competition winner 2001: poverty - a precarious public policy idea
journal contributionposted on 2023-05-16, 20:44 authored by David AdamsDavid Adams
The mixed economy of the welfare state armed with the new science of public administration was going to eradicate poverty. But it hasn't and the policy influence of the idea of poverty has fallen away. I explain this by looking at the conditions under which good ideas are likely to make it to policy status. Good ideas tend to be simple to understand; resonate with people's experiences of life; have leadership and a policy community around them; fit into program and resource structures of governments and seem capable of solving immediate problems. The idea of eradicating poverty has lost these features. For example, for the past 20 years poverty ideas have been knocked off their perch by economic reform ideas. Not only are there these competing economic ideas (which are claimed to be a solution to poverty), there is also a raft of new social capital ideas making claims on policy resources. The idea of poverty has been obfuscated such that we can't agree what it means any more or how to measure it or who is responsible for tackling it. Which, of course, means no one can be held accountable. Out of the muddle I suggest a way forward to make the idea influential again. For example, having some national goals and agreeing some basic language and targets would be a good start.
Publication titleAustralian Journal of Public Administration
PublisherBlackwell Publishing Asia
Place of publicationAustralia