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Advocacy research and social policy: Action for children and the National Society for the Prevention of cruelty to children as case studies

McLaughlin, K (2015) Advocacy research and social policy: Action for children and the National Society for the Prevention of cruelty to children as case studies. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 35. ISSN 0144-333X

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Abstract

© Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Purpose: Much social policy research today is commissioned, published and publicised by organisations with direct involvement in that particular aspect of policy. Whilst much good can result from such “advocacy research”, at times the tactics employed by some groups have been criticised for exaggerated claims making and sensationalist reporting as they attempt to get their particular issue into the political and public domain and also generate more government funding and/or increase public donations. The purpose of this paper is to investigate such claims. Design/methodology/approach: In this paper the author wishes to look at some of the tactics utilised by advocacy groups in order to establish the legitimacy of their particular concern. The author focuses on material published by Action for Children and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and between 2010 and 2012 in relation to child maltreatment, critically analysing them from a social constructionist standpoint and drawing on aspects of moral panic theory. Findings: The paper concludes by warning of the dangers for both social policy and related practice that can arise from uncritically accepting the claims of contemporary moral entrepreneurs. Originality/value: This paper uses theoretical concepts to analyse contemporary campaigns by two charity organisations.

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