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Faculty of Social Sciences

Staff Profile

Prof John Clarke

Prof John Clarke

Emeritus Professor

Social Policy and Criminology


Professional affiliations

I am a member of the Association for Cultural Studies; the UK Social Policy Association, the American Anthropological Association, the Society for the Anthropology of North America and the Association for the Anthropology of Policy. I am also a member of the Academy of Social Sciences.

Course development and teaching

Since coming to The Open University in 1980 I have worked on a wide range of courses, from level one to Master's courses. Although my work has been mainly focused on social policy courses, I have been involved in other courses across the faculty. Most recently I have contributed to Welfare, crime and society (DD208) and Introducing the social sciences (DD101). I am currently working on the development of the new module DD102: a number which brings my Open University career full circle, as I was first appointed to work on D102.

I have also been a visiting scholar at a number of other institutions including NOVA in Oslo, the Danish Social Research Institute (SFI) in Copenhagen, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Central European University in Budapest.

Research interests

My work has centred on ways in which welfare states have been transformed since the late twentieth century, with a particular interest in how the relationships between welfare, state and nation have been reconstructed. I am fascinated by how understandings of what the 'social' in social policy means, and how its meanings are constructed and contested, particularly in relation to dominant political and managerial conceptions of the public and the public interest. I have an interest in the ways in which national, international and trans-national processes intersect in the reshaping of social welfare, its social relations and its governance systems. These interests are linked by a commitment to making cultural analysis contribute to the analysis of social policy. This is the focus of a book, Changing Welfare, Changing States: New Directions in Social Policy, published by Sage in 2004.

I have a long standing concern with the political, cultural and organizational changes associated with the impact of managerialism on public services and their reform. A collaboration with Janet Newman in 1997 explored The Managerial State (Sage), while more recently we have co-authored Publics, Politics and Power: remaking the public in public services (Sage, 2009). These concerns connect me to the Publics Research Programme of the University's Centre for Citizenship Identities and Governance (CCIG). These issues were also central to an exploration of the role of consumerism in public service reform in the UK through a funded research project Creating Citizen-Consumers: Changing Relationships and Identifications. A book from the project Creating Citizen-Consumers: changing publics and changing public services was published by Sage in January 2007. Details of the project and some of its papers can be found on the Creating Citizen-Consumers: Changing Relationships and Identifications website.

I am currently completing a collaborative project on citizenship that will result in a co-authored book with Kathy Coll, Evelina Dagnino and Catherine Neveu: Disputing Citizenship (to be published by The Policy Press in 2013). I am also working with other colleagues on the politics of policy translation in transnational settings; and, like many others, I continue to be intrigued by the implications of the financial crisis for the future of public services and social welfare.

Finally, I am part of an ESRC funded bilateral research project with Scottish and Swedish colleagues: Governing by Inspection: School Inspection and Educational Governance in Scotland, England and Sweden (2010-2013).

Recent publications

A selection of my research publications can be viewed at The Open University's Open Research Online.

'The work of governing' in Kendra Coulter and William R. Schumann (eds.) Governing Cultures: Anthropological Perspectives on Political Labor, Power, and Government. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

'Generacialismo' (with Janet Newman) Educação & Realidade, Maio/Ago, V.37 n.2: 353-382; 2012

'The Alchemy of Austerity' (with Janet Newman) Critical Social Policy, 32: 299-319. doi:10.1177/0261018312444405; 2012.

'Brave New World? Anglo-American Challenges to Universalism' (with Janet Newman) in A. Antonnen, L. Häikiö and K. Stefánsson (eds) Welfare, Universalism and Diversity. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2012.

'Austerita e autoritarismo: il populismo impopolare nel Regno Unito' La Rivista delle Politiche Sociali, 2012 N.1: 213-230.

'Introduction: Questioning Citizenships/Questions de citoyennetés' With Catherine Neveu, Kathleen Coll and Evelina Dagnino, Evelina. Citizenship Studies, Dec. 2011, Vol. 15 Issue 8: 945-964; DOI: 10.1080/13621025.2011.627759

'Alla Ricerca di una Big Society? Conservatorismo, Coalizioni e Controversie' La Rivista Delle Politiche Sociali, 2011, N. 2: 183-198.

'Enrolling Ordinary People: governmental strategies and the avoidance of politics?' Citizenship Studies, Vol. 14 (6): 637-650. 2010.

'Summoning Spectres: crises and their construction' (with Janet Newman) Journal of Education Policy, Vol. 25 (6): 709-715. 2010.

'Of crises and conjunctures: The Problem of the Present' Journal of Communication Inquiry, 34 (4): 337-354, 2010

'So many strategies, so little time… making universities modern' Learning and Teaching in Social Sciences, Vol 3(3): 91-116; 2010.

'Parler de citoyenneté : discours gouvernementaux et vernaculaires' Anthropologie et Societés; 33(2): 43-62, 2009.

'Delivering Choice and Administering Justice: Contested Logics of Public Service' (with Janet Newman and Morag McDermont) in M. Adler (ed) Administrative Justice in Context. Oxford: Hart Publishing: 25-46. 2010.

'Beyond Public and Private? The Changing Welfare Mix' in Social Reforms and the Changing "Public"-"Private" Mix in Social Welfare (M. Petmesidou and Christos Paptheodorou, eds). Athens: Ellinika Grammata, pp. 23-38 (2010; Volume in Greek).

A repository of research publications and other research outputs can be viewed at The Open University's Open Research Online.

Other interests

I have a long-standing interest and involvement in the work of Citizens Advice.

Last updated: 29 November 2012