What characteristics make the UK a liberal state?

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What characteristics make the UK a liberal state?

1. What characteristics make the UK a liberal state?

The UK has several attributes of a liberal state that distinguishes it from authoritarian or totalitarian states. An important characteristic of a liberal state is the avoidance of conservatism or restrictive attitude in policy making and administration. In the UK, this is evidenced by the fact that the policy is made in a way that reflects the multiplicity of ideas and views that are a part of the UK society (Jones & Norton, 2014). In the UK, emphasis is on the rights of individuals. This is evidenced by the constitutional law, which recognizes important due process rights for individuals. Liberty of the individual is a residual concept, which means that a person has as much liberty as is not specifically restricted by law. The UK is a multicultural, multi-layered society, with people of different races, communities and ideologies. True to its liberal traditions, the UK as a state is neutral towards the different groups that are invariably a part of such society (Jones & Norton, 2014, p. 44). There is a separation of powers in the UK. This means that powers are divided between the three organs of the government: legislature, executive and judiciary. In the UK, the operation of separation of powers is not in the pure sense. However, powers are definitely not centralized in any one organ and there is a system of checks and balances (Jones & Norton, 2014, p. 61). An attribute of liberal state is that it is reformist in nature. As such, it supports policies of reform that are structured to bring about gradual and sure reform.

What kind of social problems are linked to social policy?

Social policy concerns with the drafting of legislations, rules, guidelines or principles that relate to areas that are directly or indirectly related to welfare, bettering social conditions, or responding to social issues. As such social problems are an intrinsic part of social policy (Spicker, 2014). The kinds of social problems linked to social policy are of varied nature. Such social problems may be related to education, health, housing and economic security. This may translate to social problems such as certain sections of the society, not being able to partake of education (Spicker, 2014). Health care may be too expensive if left only to private funding. The state may be required to ensure decent and affordable housing to people, due to problems of homelessness and vagrancy. Due to unemployment, there may be people who require welfare support. This may take the form of health care, pensions, social care. Social problems may be of such a nature or magnitude that they would require a legislative response. This is seen in the area of criminal justice, where newer forms of crimes are observed in the society. In particular, the internet has brought its share of social problems, such as cyber bullying. These problems need a criminal justice oriented social policy. William Beveridge, the chief architect of the British welfare state, had identified some of the major problems in: poverty, ill-health, poor housing, insufficient education and unemployment (the five giants) (Blakemore & Warwick-Booth, 2013). These social problems have been the subject matter of much reform in the UK. Welfare laws have come to be recognized as important policy matters in the UK for the purpose of challenging and correcting social problems.

How does neo liberalism effect welfare?

Neo-liberalism is rooted in the classical political economy theory, which emphasizes free markets, free competition and free enterprise. The focus in on the freedom of people from any interference or influence by the state (Plant, 2009). Neoliberalism impacts welfare adversely, because its focus is on freeing the individual from the interference of states and creating an economy which is based on the principles of liberalization. In the UK, the reduction in welfare policies was seen during the government of Margaret Thatcher, who pushed for liberalization and restructuring of state sectors. Recently, the Welfare Reform Act 2012 introduced benefit cuts which were earlier allowed. Some of the key changes brought about by the law is in the housing benefits ( National Housing Federation, 2012). Another feature of the law, which relates to neo liberal ideology is the introduction of the Universal Credit, which replaces six earlier given benefits. One impact of neo liberalism on the welfare state is that there is a diminished responsibility of the state to make welfare provisions in social policy. This is in keeping with the neo liberalism ideas of downsizing the state’s role in an individual’s life. Welfare policies are made by the state for social as well as individual benefit. Neoliberalism emphasizes on devolution and privatization. This subjects even the concept of welfare to the logic of the market (Plant, 2009). This has been seen in the UK, especially in the period between 1971 to 1991, when many welfare policies were rolled back by the Conservative government. Instead there was more focus on privatization, as seen in the privatization of pension schemes, which were earlier in the domain of government.

What are the key features of rational and incremental policy making?

The key feature of rational policy making process is that it is scientifically structured. This process is based on the on the model of reasoning that is used by economists, mathematicians, and psychologists. It is structured in a way that there are certain assumptions that are made at the beginning of the process. First, it is assumed that the policy maker has identified the problem. Moreover, the goals, values, and objectives are clear (John, 2012). Alternative ways of addressing the problem are considered, that the cost and benefits or advantages and disadvantages of each alternative are investigated. It is assumed that the policy maker will compare the alternatives available to him, and finally choose the one most concomitant with the decided goals, values, and objectives. Incremental process of policy making, which is associated with the ideas of Charles Lindblom, is not as regimented and scientifically applied as the rational process. Incremental theory does not presume that the policy maker would have identified the problems, selected the goals and objectives (Fox, Bayat, & Ferreira, 2006). Rather, they believe that these areas are intertwined with the scientific analysis of the problem. Decision makers do not remake policy every time; they sometimes only refashion existing policy. When doing so, they consider alternatives for dealing with a problem that differs incrementally from existing policies. Focus is on important consequences of the alternatives and finding agreement on the course of action to pursue.


  • Plant, R. (2009). The Neo Liberal State. Oxford: OUP.
  • Spicker, P. (2014). Social Policy: Theory and Practice. Bristol: Policy Press.
  • Blakemore, K., & Warwick-Booth, L. (2013). Social Policy: An Introduction. Berkshire: Open University Press.
  • National Housing Federation. (2012, March). Welfare Reform Act 2012: key issues. Retrieved from http://www.housing.org.uk/resource-library/browse/welfare-reform-act-2012-key-issues/ Jones, B., & Norton, P. (2014). Politics UK. Oxon: Routledge.
  • Fox, W., Bayat, S., & Ferreira, N. (2006). A Guide to Managing Public Policy . Cape Town: Juta and Company.
  • John, P. (2012). Analyzing Public Policy. Oxon: Routledge.

postcolonial critiques of community based tourism as a development tool in the Global South (because normally they are

The first important question for those advocating or writing about community development programmes, is as asked by Blackstock (2005), “What or who is the community in community based tourism?” The answer is deeply contested especially in the postcolonial narrative because the power to define community, especially in the global South, is usually vested in the Western perspectives and ideas. Regardless of the contested versions of what community means, participatory models that take community into confidence have found support in different corners of the world. For Bhattacharya (2004), community development had two components: community is basically solidarity of peoples with shared values, norms and identity; and development is essentially an agency or even autonomy, which can defined as:

the capacity of the people to order their world, the capacity to create, reproduce, change and live according to their own meaning systems, to have to power to define themselves as opposed to being defined by others (Bhattacharya, 2004, p.12).

Thus, for Bhattacharyya (2004) it was important that people be given the opportunity to be producers of their own life chances; an opportunity to voice their needs and demands; and participation must be encouraged at every opportunity. Many community development projects may not really take into consideration the actual needs of the community that they seek to represent. In the global South, this problem is compounded by postcolonial narratives that shape the community development programmes from the perspective of how the community is to be represented to the tourists, actual non participation of the community itself and the drive and push of the tourism industry, which is more profits driven. Aslam et al (2016) take a critical viewpoint of whether there can be achievements in sustainable tourism. They argue that the global south or developing regions of the world is where tourism is rapidly growing and these regions cannot be ignored. Friedman says: citizens around the world have begun to search for an alternative development that is less tied to the dynamics of industrial capitalism. Emancipatory movements have emerged to push for a more positive vision of the future…and in a series pursuit of a balanced natural environment, gender equality, the abolition of racism and the eradication of grinding poverty (1987, p.10). Blackstock (2005) argues that tourism depends on the goodwill of the residents and that has become the basis for broader issues in community development and participatory planning. In fact, as she points out, “community development explicitly seeks to dismantle barriers to participation and develop emancipatory collective responses to local issue” (Blackstock, 2005, p.50). For Blackstock (2005, p.50), the most basic critique against the community development programmes is that it diverges from the ‘ethos of community development’ and instead risks becoming what can only be called a ‘community development imposter’. This happens in three ways: first, through a focus on sustaining tourism development and meeting community needs leads to a lack of transformative potential; second, by treating communities as homogenous blocks instead of the varied groups of people that they really are; and third, by ignoring the extent to which local decisions are situated within broader ideological contexts and this really affects their power to affect change (Mair, 2014, p.54). Undoubtedly, community development and participatory planning bases itself on grounds of betterment of the community. However these methods are not without their critiques. These critiques have been important in bringing attention to the “potential for tourism planning process that engages the community to fall apart or simply to reinforce the power structures that are already in place” (Mair, 2014, p.52). This goes to the root of whether stakeholder participation has been effectively implemented in community development programmes. Bramwell (2004) listed three strategies to ensure better stakeholder protection. These three strategies include: increased inclusion of communities so that the participatory panning is done in the most democratic manner; ensuring the non-participants too are able to build their institutional capacities and self-confidence; and consulting all parties, whether or not they are actively involved or not (Bramwell, 2004, p.542). Vrasti (2013) writes about Guatemala and how community development programmes have shaped in the region. She says that the experience of volunteer tourism has helped to distance tourism from ecological destruction, economic exploitation and commercial orientation of the modern mass tourism (p.56). Volunteer tourism allows experiences away from the urbanised and industrial world of the first world countries and offers a view of a different world to travellers from the Western world. In Vrasti’s (2013) viewpoint, this alternate world is that of cultural exchange, which is governed by “transnational responsibility and charitable ambitions”, which makes tourism a commodity that is beyond reproach. However, as she points out with respect to Guatemala’s experience, this is really not the case. Volunteer tourism is not really above reproach from the consumerist point of view. She writes that: Volunteering in Guatemala failed to elicit the care and compassion that I had expected from a grassroots philanthropic enterprise. Volunteers could understand neither the purpose of their work projects, nor the problems they were supposed to address…..The affective response volunteering produced instead drew upon a romantic longing for authentic meaning and spiritual renewal, deeply lodged in the consciousness of affluent Western consumers and produced a multicultural appreciation for the “poor but happy” lifestyle of the developing populations. If the town of San Andres was not poor enough for volunteers to demonstrate their humanitarian sensibilities, it at least was small enough to allow tourists to ‘fall in love’ with the local people and culture. As was to be expected, this sentimental education had its nefarious consequences (Vrasti, 2013, p.56). Vrasti’s writing is an important indicator of the need for critical viewpoints on community development programmes in the context of tourism. - Self-Other binary & power relation context It is interesting that postcolonialism has seen the power of narrative on indigenous culture to be with the Western people. Therefore, the indigenous peoples have been objectified and made to be mute spectators, while others define their own culture. As far as the Western narrative is concerned, it may itself be heavily loaded with a narrative that focusses on invention of the exotic, rather than the reality. So much so that those natives who are Westernised, are viewed by the Westerners as “inventors of themselves and false representatives of their authentic and primitive cultures” (Friedman, 1998). In part, the growing worldwide popularity of indigenous people’s arts and culture and artefacts, is to blame. Here, the demand from tourism is to partake of that authentic art and culture and when denied that opportunity there is a feeling of being cheated as far as the tourist is concerned. In such a situation, the ability of the indigenous peoples to interpret their own cultures, to defend the integrity of their cultures and to receive the compensation for the use and enjoyment of their cultural manifestations by tourists becomes very contested (d’Hauteserre, 2008, p.241), because it takes away the power to define. It is worthwhile to note what Hall had to say about this: Colonisation so refigured the terrain, that, ever since, the idea of a world of separate identities, of isolated or separable or self-sufficient cultures and economies, has been obliged to yield to a variety of paradigms, designed to capture these different but related forms of relationship, interconnection and discontinuity (1996, pp.252-3). Thus, difficulty of divorcing definitions of peoples from the pre conceived Western notions of authenticity of indigenous culture and peoples. This can also be seen with the example of the way Africans, ‘authentic’ and ‘westernised’ are defined from a Western perspective. A real African is someone who still lives in the bush and goes naked. It is this real African that the tourist wants to experience for the satisfaction of the need for the exotic. Never mind that more and more Africans, like people elsewhere in the world are not in the bushes. However the postcolonial definitions of primitive peoples and cultures demand that image to be realised. The problem is that such places and peoples are not really the same as how they are represented in literature, and this leads to disenchantment. Marmol (2014) writes about the Catalan Pyrenees and how the realities of the place may contrast with the more romanticised narrative that channels the rural authenticity of the place. She goes on to compare this with the narratives of other such romanticised places in the world where “Western representations of rural society as an ancient but a continuing way of life has acted as a myth that has concealed local and historical specificities” (Marmol, 2014). For Marmol, this need to romanticise and idealise the rural past has been strategically cultivated and institutionalised in order to feed a regionalist political agenda and she calls this ‘heritage politics’. Talking of the Catalan region, she points out that the tourism in the region has developed in the last 30 years with a specific agenda. As a process of enchantment, tourists have been enticed into the region by transforming attractions that feed from romantic traditions and bucolic perspectives (Marmol, 2014). This is interesting because Marmol shifts the liability for maintenance of the myth of rural charm on the hosts and not on the visitors. Santos (2014) is even more evocative in describing the chasm between the past and the present realities. He writes about the use of theme parks that are centred around the past colonial lands and the power of imagery that creates and reinforces ideas about the colonised land. He also speaks about the different world outside of these themes that changed long time ago.

Reference List

    1. Aslam, M., Cooper, M.J.M, Othman, N. and Lew A.A. (2016). Sustainable Tourism in the Global South: Communities, Environments and Experiences. Cambridge Scholars.
    2. Bhattacharyya, J. (2004). Theorising Community Development. 34 Community Development Journal 2.
    3. Blackstock, K. (2005). A Critical Look at Community Based Tourism. 40 Community Development Journal 1.
    4. Bramwell, B. (2004). Partnerships, Participation and Social Science Research in Tourism Planning. In A Lew, CM Hall and AM Williams (Eds.), A Companion to Tourism. Oxford: Blackwell.
    5. d’Hauteserre, A.M. (2008). Postcolonialism, Colonialism and Tourism. In Alan A. Lew, C. Michael Hall, Allan M. Williams (Eds.), A Companion to Tourism. John Wiley & sons.
    6. Friedmann, J. (1987). Planning in the Public Domain: From Knowledge to Action. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
    7. Mair, H. (2014). Trust and Participatory Tourist Planning. In Robin Nuncio and Stephen L.J. Smith (Eds.), Trust, Tourism Development and Planning. Routledge.
    8. Marmol, C.D. (2014). Through Other Times: The Politics of Heritage and the Past in the Caralan Pyrenees. In David Picard, Michael A. Di Giovine (eds.) Tourism and the Power of Otherness: Seductions of Difference. Channel View Publications.
    9. Santos, P.M. (2014). Calling on the Lost Empire: The Evocative Powers of Miniatures in a Portuguese National Theme Park. In David Picard, Michael A. Di Giovine (eds.) Tourism and the Power of Otherness: Seductions of Difference. Channel View Publications.
    10. Vrasti, W. (2013). Volunteer Tourism in the Global South: Giving Back in Neoliberal Times. Routledge.

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