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Publications archive

A dozen keynote articles from the last 40 years:

'They make the rules: political routines and the generation of political bias'
Policy & Politics vol.4, 1975 - They make the rules

What are you to do if you want to challenge what the powerful are doing? Confront them, and get defined as 'irresponsible' and be marginalised; or engage with them, and before you know it you find yourself incorporated into their world. This was my first published academic paper, based on my PhD research in Croydon, in which I analysed and illustrated what political scientists call the 'politics of non-decision-making'.

'Beyond housing classes: the sociological significance of private property rights in means of consumption' International journal of urban and regional research vol.9, 1984 - Beyond Housing Classes

This article set out my argument that the growth of mass home ownership has fundamentally changed British society.
It gives you access to capital accumulation over time, it may change your political views and allegiances, and it probably influences the way you think about your home and even your identity.

'Privatisation and the consumer' Sociology vol.24, 1990 (with Colin Harris) - Privatisation and the consumer

The growth of home ownership sparked major changes in British society, and some Conservatives claimed that the privatisation of Britain's nationalised industries was having similar effects by creating a 'people's capitalism'. But the parallel is false. The privatisations of the 1980s did little to empower consumers.

'Citizenship in a liberal society' in B.Turner (ed) Citizenship and social theory Sage, 1993 - Read on Google Books

Based on my Sussex professorial lecture, this article takes issue with those who claim modern citizenship rights necessitate an extensive welfare state. If we really want to promote public morality and social cohesion, we won't do it by giving people more welfare rights. Rather, we need to give people more responsibility for organising their own lives, in order to reinvigorate the 'little platoons' of home, family, neighbourhood and workplace.

'Might Britain be a meritocracy?' Sociology, vol. 29, 1995 - Might Britain be a meritocracy?

My first publication on social mobility. Goldthorpe had shown that boys born to manual working class fathers were 3 or 4 times less likely to get professional-managerial jobs than boys born to professional-managerial fathers. But does this necessarily mean recruitment is non-meritocratic? If we lived in a perfect meritocracy where only your talent determines your success or failure in life, the brightest people would end up in the top positions, and they would tend to have bright children. We should
expect to find their children doing better than other kids.

'Routes of success: Influences on the occupational attainment of young British males' (with Rod Bond) British Journal of Sociology, vol.50 1999 - Routes of success

A compelling demonstration that the most important thing determining where people end up in the occupational system is not their class background, nor what kind of school they went to, but their ability, hard work and motivation. Using a structural equations model to sift through more than 70 variables affecting the lives of 17,000 people,we show that a simple IQ testtaken at age 11 accounts for half of all the explained variance in their occupational outcomes.

'Why capitalism is good for the soul' Policy vol.23, no 4, Summer 2007 - download PDF

Based on my 2007 debate with the author of 'Affluenza', Clive Hamilton. Capitalism doesn't inspire the idealistic young, like socialism or environmentalist politics do. But unlike these alternatives, it keeps on raising living standards right across the world, and it gives us more freedom than ever before in history to lead our own lives in the way we choose.

What are low ability workers to do when unskilled jobs disappear? Part I (Issue Analysis No.91, 2007) and Part II (Issue Analysis No.93, 2008), Centre for Independent Studies - download PDFs: Part I Part II

Technical innovation and the opening up of global markets have reduced demand for low-skilled labour in the advanced economies, with the result that many low-skilled workers end up on welfare (often on disability payments). Politicians want to train them for the new, high-tech jobs, but the evidence is that training schemes are ineffective. Many of these displaced workers have low cognitive ability. We need to find useful tasks for them to do which reflect their capabilities.

Poverty of ambition: why we need a new approach to tackling child poverty
Policy Exchange Research Note, October 2009 - download PDF

In 2009, Parliament passed the Child Poverty Act which commits future governments to meeting four child poverty targets by 2020. But the definition and measurement of poverty is badly flawed, and the only way these targets could be met is by increasing the value of welfare benefits relative to the median wage. Far from solving the problem, this will make it worse by further disincentivising work. It would make more sense to target the causes of poverty (joblessness, single parenthood, substance abuse, truancy, etc) than its manifestations.

Father Figures: How absent fathers on welfare could pay meaningful child support
Policy Exchange Research Report, March 2012
- download PDF
In Britain, absent fathers on welfare pay a maximum of £5 pw in child support. In USA and Germany they pay 6 or 7 times more. What can we learn from the Americans and the Germans?

Social mobility delusions Civitas, June 2102 - download
Bringing together the latest research on UK social mobility patterns, I show that politicians are wrong to say Britain is bottom of the international mobility rankings. They are also wrong to say mobility is declining, and that bright poor kids are falling behind dull rich kids at school
"Comprehensively debunks Milburn" (Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times)
"If you want to know the facts, Peter Saunders's pamphlets on social mobility are absolutely second-to-none" (Julia Hartley-Brewer, LBC Radio)

Remoralising the welfare state CIS Occasional Paper, no.131, March 2013 - download
Three simple fairness rules for organising welfare: People who receive welfare should not end up better off than those who assist them; The less deserving should not be treated equally with the more deserving; Before anyone looks to the state (i.e. strangers) for help, they should enlist the support of their family.

Complete list of published articles, essays and papers, in date order

1975: 'They make the rules: political routines and the generation of political bias' Policy & Politics vol.4

1976: 'Ideologies of property: a case study' Sociological Review vol.24 (co-author)

1977: 'Worlds apart: notes on the social reality of corruption' British Journal of sociology vol.28 (co-author)

1977: 'Rural community and rural community power' in H.Newby (ed) International perspectives in rural sociology Wiley (co-author)

1978: 'Domestic property and social class' International journal of urban and regional research vol.2

1980: 'Local government and the state' New Society vol.51

1982: 'Why study central-local relations?' Local government studies vol.8

1982: 'Community power, urban managerialism and the local state' in M.Harloe (ed) New perspectives in urban change and conflict Heinemann

1982: 'The state as investor' in Open University D202 course book, State intervention Open University Press

1982: 'Urban politics: a rejoinder to Hooper and Duncan & Goodwin' Political geography quarterly vol.1

1982: 'Landed property: challenge and response' in P.Hollowell (ed) Property and social relations Heinemann (co-author)

1983: 'Corporatism, competitive politics and class struggle' in R.King (ed) Capital and politics Routledge (co-author)

1983: 'On the shoulders of which giant? The case for a Weberian urban sociology' in P.Williams (ed) Social process and the city Allen & Unwin

1983: 'Social theory and the urban question: a response to Paris and Kirby' Society and space vol.1

1984: 'The day they sacked the city council' in C.Paris and J.Halligan (eds) Australian urban politics Longman

1984: 'Rethinking local politics' in M.Boddy and C.Fudge (eds) Local socialism Macmillan

1984: 'The Canberra tea party: bureaucracy, corporatism and pluralism in the administration of the A.C.T.' in P.Williams (ed) Conflict and development Allen and Unwin

1984: 'Literature, politics and society' in A.Sinfield (ed) Society and literature 1945-1970 Methuen (co-author)

1984: 'Beyong housing classes: the sociological significance of private property rights in means of consumption' International journal of urban and regional research vol.9

1985: 'The forgotten dimension of central-local relations: theorising the regional state' Government and policy vol.3

1985: 'The new right is half right' in A.Seldon (ed) The new right enlightenment Economic and Literary Books

1985: 'The sociology of the state' Social studies review preview edition

1985: 'Space, the city and urban sociology' in D.Gregory and J.Urry (eds) Social relations and spatial structures Macmillan

1985: 'Corporatism and urban service provision' in M.Grant (ed) The political economy of corporatism Macmillan

1985: 'What is happening to local government?' Local government studies vol.11

1986: 'The dual politics thesis: The argument, its origins and its critics' in M.Goldsmith and S.Villadsen (ed) Urban political theory and the management of fiscal stress Methuen

1986: 'Consumption sector cleavages: comment on Preteceille and Dunleavy' Society and space vol.4

1986: 'Tax subsidies to home buyers' in C.Bazlington (ed) Inquiry into British housing: Supplement National Federation of Housing Associations

1986: 'The new conservatism: Some thoughts on recent and future developments in urban studies' Society and space vol.4 (co-author)

1987: 'Urban service provision and the regional state in England' City and Region vol.13

1987: 'Locality research: The Sussex programme on economic restructuring, social change and the locality' Quarterly journal of social affairs vol.3 (co-author)

1987: 'Urban sociology' in M.Haralambos (ed) Developments in sociology volume 3 Causeway Press

1987: 'For an emancipated social science' Society and space vol.5 (co-author)

1988: 'The sociology of consumption: A new research agenda' in P.Otnes (ed) The sociology of consumption Humanities Press

1988: 'The constitution of the home' Housing Studies vol.3 (co-author)

1988: 'La nouvelle droit: Une perspective incomplete' Les cahiers de la recherche sur le travail social, vol.14

1989: 'The significance of the home in contemporary English social life' Housing Studies vol.4

1989: 'Popular attitudes to state welfare services' Social Affairs Unit Research Report no.11 (co-author)

1989: 'Space, urbanism and the created environment in the social theory of Anthony Giddens' in D.Held and J.Thompson (eds) Social theory of modern societies: Anthony Giddens and his critics Cambridge University Press

1989: 'The limits to liberation: Hugh Stretton on housing' in L.Orchard and R.Dare (eds) Markets, morals and public policy Federation Press

1989: 'Left-write in sociology' Network no.44

1989: 'The question of equality' Social Studies review vol.5

1990: 'The end of the home owner revolution? Chartered Institute of Building Societies Journal vol.44

1990: 'Housing: From the right to buy to the right to choose' in Social Affairs Unit, Social policy in the last and next decade SAU

1990: 'Privatisation and the consumer' Sociology vol.24 (co-author)

1992: 'The paradox of prosperity' in A.Tomlinson and S.Parker (eds) Life in the south Chelsea School Research Centre Report

1993: 'When prophecy fails: A critique of Luke Martell's "New ideas of socialism"' Economy and Society vol.22

1993: 'Citizenship in a liberal society' in B.Turner (ed) Citizenship and social theory Sage

1994: 'Social mobility and meritocracy' in D.Marsland (ed) Work and employment in liberal democratic societies Paragon House

1995: 'Privatisation, share ownership and voting' British Journal of Political Science, vol.25

1995: 'Could Britain be a meritocracy?' Sociology, vol. 29

1996: 'A British Bell Curve?' Sociology Review, vol. 6

1997: 'Social mobility in Britain: An empirical evaluation of two competing explanations' Sociology, vol. 31

1999: 'Routes of success: Influences on the occupational attainment of young British males' British Journal of Sociology, vol.50 (co-author)

1999: 'Explaining gender differences in achievement in higher education' in P.Fogelberg, J.Hearn, L.Husu and T.Mankkinen (eds), Hardwork in the Academy, Helsinki University Press (co-author)

1999: 'In defence of progress' Family Matters, no. 52

1999: 'What is a fair divorce settlement?' Family Matters, no. 53

1999: 'Families, welfare and social policy' Family Matters no.54

1999: 'The New Right, New Labour and the problem of social cohesion' In G. Andrews, R. Cockett, A. Hooper and M. Williams (eds) New Left, New Right and Beyond Macmillan

2000: 'Australian youth and the dependency culture' In P. Saunders (ed) Reforming the Australian welfare state Australian Institute of Family Studies (co-author)

2000: 'Issues in the reform of the Australian welfare state' In P. Saunders (ed) Reforming the Australian welfare state Australian Institute of Family Studies

2000: 'Family research and family policy since 1992' - afterword to N.Dennis, Families without Fatherhood 3rd edn, Institute for the Study of Civil Society (Civitas)

2001: 'Explaining the social structure of the city' in R.Paddison (ed), Handbook of Urban Studies, Sage

2001: 'Loosening the nuclear ties' in J.Healey (ed), Family Values (Issues in Society, vol.150), The Spinney Press

2001: 'Australia is not Sweden: The welfare state and national cultures' Policy vol.17 (Spring)

2001: 'Comments on Peter King: Was Conservative housing policy really conservative?' Housing, Theory and Society vol.18

2001: 'Social class' in N. Smelser and P. Baltes (eds) International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, Pergamon

2002: 'Poor arguments: A response to the Smith Family report on poverty in Australia' (co-author) Issue Analysis no.21, Centre for Independent Studies

2002: 'Poor statistics: Getting the facts right about poverty in Australia' Issue Analysis no.23, Centre for Independent Studies

2002: 'The cuckoo in the nest' In I. Salusinszky and G. Melleuish, eds., Blaming Ourselves: September 11th and the Agony of the Left Duffy and Snellgrove

2002: 'The social foundations of a free society' Occasional Paper No.79, Centre for Independent Studies, Sydney

2002: 'What future for welfare?' Occasional Paper No 11, Free Market Foundation, Johannesburg

2002: 'For richer or poorer' in J.Healey (ed), Poverty (Issues in Society, vol.170), The Spinney Press

2002: 'Reflections on the meritocracy debate in Britain' British Journal of Sociology vol.53 (4), 559-74

2002: 'Six questions about civility' CIS Occasional Paper No.82 (co-author)

2002: 'What future for welfare?' Australian Social Policy Journal, 2001-02, 21-42

2002: 'Poor concepts: Social exclusion, poverty and the politics of guilt' Policy vol 18, no 2, Winter (co-author)

2003: 'Does prison work?' Policy vol. 18 no. 4, Summer 2002/3 (co-author)

2003: 'Turning Back the Tide. Welfare Lessons from America' Policy vol. 18, no.3 Autumn

2003: 'Help and hassle: Do people on welfare really want to work? Policy vol. 19, no.2 Winter

2003: 'What role for government?' Policy vol. 19, no.3 Spring

2003: 'The Tender Trap. Reducing Long-Term Welfare Dependency by Reforming the Parenting Payment System' Issue Analysis No. 36, June (co-author)

2003: 'How to reduce long-term unemployment' Issue Analysis No. 40, September (co-author), Centre for Independent Studies

2003: 'A Self-Reliant Australia: Welfare policy for the 21st century' CIS Occasional Paper No.86 (December 2003)

2004: 'What is fair about a fair go?' Policy vol.20,no.1 Autumn

2004: 'Lies, damned lies and the Senate poverty inquiry report' Issue Analysis No. 46, April, Centre for Independent Studies

2004: 'Why we must reform the Disability Support Pension' Issue Analysis No. 47, April, Centre for Independent Studies

2004: 'Only 18%? Why ACOSS is wrong to be complacent about welfare dependency' Issue Analysis No.51, September, Centre for Independent Studies

2004: Tax reform to make work pay CIS Policy Monograph No.62 (co-author)

2004: 'Be inventive with incentives' and 'The problem of long-term unemployment' both in J.Healey, Unemployment (Issues in Society, vol.210), Spinney Press

2004: 'Principle and pragmatism' in P.Dawkins and M.Steketee, Reforming Australia Melbourne University Press

2005: 'Reform of the social security system' Tax Policy Journal vol.1

2005: ''After the house price boom' Policy vol.21, no.1, Autumn

2005: 'War of the words' (review article) Policy vol.21, no.4, Summer

2005: 'Restoring self-reliance through tax, welfare and labour market reform' Brisbane Line (on-line journal:

2005: 'The $85 billion tax-welfare churn' Issue Analysis No. 57, April, Centre for Independent Studies

2005: 'A headlong dash into the chasm of hyperbole' Issue Analysis No. 59, June, Centre for Independent Studies

2005: 'Clearing muddy waters: Why Vinnies are wrong on inequality'' Issue Analysis No. 60, June, Centre for Independent Studies

2005: 'Six arguments in favour of self-funding' Issue Analysis No. 61, July, Centre for Independent Studies

2005: 'Twenty million future funds' Issue Analysis No. 66, December, Centre for Independent Studies
100th published article

2006: 'Citizenship in a liberal society' In Hans-Peter Mueller and Juergen Mackert (eds) Citizenship. Institutionen und Dynamiken moderner Staatsbürgerschaft.

2006: 'The rise of the Opinionators' Policy vol.22 no.2 Winter

2006: 'Surf for the rest of your lives…' (review essay) Policy vol.22 no.4 Summer

2006: 'The politics of Frank Furedi' Policy vol.22 no.3 Spring

2007: 'A welfare state for those who want one, opt outs for those who don't' Issue Analysis No.79, January, Centre for Independent Studies

2007: 'Reinventing New Zealand's welfare state' Issue Analysis No.85, March, Centre for Independent Studies

2007: 'What are low ability workers to do when unskilled jobs disappear? Part I: Why more education and training isn't the answer' Issue Analysis No.91, December, Centre for Independent Studies

2007: 'Does capitalism threaten the family? Policy vol.23 no.1, Autumn

2007: 'The limits to meritocracy' In G. Dench (ed), The Rise and Rise of Meritocracy (London, Young Foundation)

2007: 'Why capitalism is good for the soul' Policy vol.23, no 4, Summer (reprinted in The Insider Heritage Foundation, Washington DC, April 2008; translated and reprinted as 'Kapitalismus essen Seele auf', Merkur: Deutsche Zeitschrift fur europaisches Denken, No.708, May 2008, 389-98)

2008: 'What are low ability workers to do when unskilled jobs disappear? Part II: Expanding low skilled employment' Issue Analysis No.93, January, Centre for Independent Studies

2008: 'A whiff of compassion? The attack on mutual obligation' Issue Analysis No.96, June, Centre for Independent Studies

2008: 'Six social policy myths' (joint author) Policy vol.24, no.1, Autumn

2008: 'Declaring dependence, declaring independence' CIS Occasional Paper No.111

2008: 'The experience of contracting out employment services in Australia' In Peter Lilley and Oliver Hartwich (eds), Paying for Success (London, Policy Exchange)

2008: 'The growth of conditional welfare in Australia' In Frank Field and Oliver Hartwich (ed), Conditional Welfare (London, Policy Exchange)

2009: 'Supping with the devil: government contracts and the non-profit sector' (with M. Stewart-Weeks), Centre for Independent Studies report, April

2009: 'Reforming the UK family tax and benefits system' Policy Exchange report, London, June

2009: 'Poverty of ambition: why we need a new approach to tackling child poverty' Policy Exchange Research Note, October

2009: Essays on Kolakowski's 'Main Currents in Marxism' and Murray's 'In Pursuit of Happiness and Good Government', In Chris Berg and Andrew Kemp (eds), One hundred great books of freedom (Connor Court Publishing)

2010: 'Difference, inequality and unfairness: The fallacies, errors and confusions in the Equality & Human Rights Commission report, How fair is Britain?' Civitas Online Report, October

2011: Featured Guest on The Economist online debate, 'This house believes the global elite serves the masses'

2011: 'No rights without responsibility: Rebalancing the welfare state (with Matt Oakley) Policy Exchange Research Note, May 2011 ('Bold and brilliant' Daily Mail)

2011: 'Academic Sociology and Social Policy Think Tanks in Britain and Australia: A Personal Reflection',
Sociological Research Online, vol.16, no.3, 31 August

2012: 'Father Figures: How absent fathers on welfare could pay meaningful child support' Policy Exchange Research Report, March

2012: 'Are equal societies better societies?' In Gary Johns, ed., Right Social Justice: Better Ways to Help the Poor (Connorcourt)

2012: 'An awkward European'
Policy Magazine, vol 28, no.1

2012: 'Social mobility delusions' Civitas report, June

2013: 'Remoralising the welfare state' CIS Occasional Paper no.131, March

2013: Introduction to Tom Palmer, After the welfare state CIS Occasional Paper no.132, April

2015: Response to Toby Young's The Fall of the Merotocracy
Quadrant, forthcoming

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