This article argues that postmodernist theory is something which students of social policy should neither accept uncritically nor dismiss out of hand. Firstly, the article takes issue with the responses made to postmodernist theory by Ramesh Mishra and Peter Taylor-Gooby. Secondly, it argues that the ideas loosely known as ‘reflexive modernisation’ constitute a more measured and critical response, though such ideas are likely to be of little use to social policy research in the absence of any reference to a left-right spectrum. Thirdly, it argues that by combining reflexive modernisation with a left-right spectrum, a decentred conception of welfare emerges which could be of value to a radical left politics. Finally, it argues for a Citizen's Income as a reform proposal which has the potential to establish such a system of decentred welfare.
(Received November 02 1994)
(Accepted January 11 1995)
* I would like to thank Simon Thompson, Kate Nash, Jo VanEvery and two anonymous referees for their advice and encouragement.
† Lecturer, Department of Social Policy, Newcastle University.