School of Social and Political Science

Dr Jackie Gulland wins prestigious award for the year’s best social policy book

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Dr Jackie Gulland, Lecturer in Social Work at the School of Social and Political Science (SPS), has picked up the Social Policy Association’s (SPA) 2020 Richard Titmuss award for the year’s best book in the field.

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I am honoured to receive this award for my book about the history of benefits decision-making in the UK. The book discusses stories from people in the past but it also concerns people who struggle with the benefits system today. My research shows that social structures matter. During the current pandemic those struggles are even more evident. – Dr Jackie Gulland, SPS


Her book, Gender, Work and Social Control: A Century of Disability Benefits, won the SPA’s annual book award. The SPA judges described it as "an original and path-breaking blend of law and social science", adding ‘what is most impressive is the way Dr Gulland blends the details of the cases within a clear analytical framework".

The award recognises a general contribution to the advancement of the understanding of social policy through the publication of scholarly works.

Gender, Work and Social Control: A Century of Disability Benefits was developed from Dr Gulland’s research on a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at SPS. She used archive materials relating to appeals against refusals of benefits to explore the meaning of the term ‘incapable of work’ over a hundred years, from 1911 to present day. It offers new insights into the different forms that conditionality can take in social security decision-making and examines the gendered nature of that decision-making.

The book concludes that decisions about incapacity for work are based on assumptions about gender, disability and social class but also about what work is and who should be expected to do it. Incapacity for work is not a medical question. It is linked closely to the labour market and to existing inequalities.