Continuity and change in social policy

Daniel Beland, Martin Powell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
686 Downloads (Pure)


While much has been written over the last two decades about social policy continuity and change, the literature is often fragmentary and imprecise, with little material exploring it in a systematic and rigorous manner. The objective of this article is to provide a critical reading of the recent literature, discussing concepts and issues such as paradigm shift, path dependence, punctuated equilibrium, ideational analysis and cumulative change (including conversion, layering and policy drift). It examines the degree and type of change, and explanations for change: the ‘how much, what type and why of change’. The article concludes with an overview of the contributions of this special issue of Social Policy & Administration devoted to the issues of policy continuity and change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129–147
JournalSocial Policy and Administration
Issue number2
Early online date22 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016


  • Social policy
  • Policy change
  • Policy continuity
  • Path dependence
  • Punctuated equilibrium
  • Paradigm shift


Dive into the research topics of 'Continuity and change in social policy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this