Dave Clements: writer on social policy

Dave Clements is a writer on social policy and has worked for 12 years in local government, predominantly social care. He is co-editor of The Future of Community: Reports of a Death Greatly Exagerrated (Pluto, 2008), and contributes to a variety of publications, in particular online magazine spiked, the Guardian’s Joe Public blog, and Culture Wars, the Institute of Ideas’ online review website. He is convenor of the Institute of Ideas’ Social Policy Forum and a member of the Battle of Ideas organising committee.

November 2013

Clubbed out

Cherrington cites a late 19th century Lord Rosebery, CIU president at the time, declaring in a perennial debate about licensing, that working men are ‘not to be patronised, and fostered, and dandled.’ Their clubs must ‘be free from all vexatious, infantile restrictions on the consumption of intoxicating drinks and similar matters’. ‘All that is to be done for the working men is to be done by themselves’, insisted Rosebery.

April 2013

Bringing back working class values?

Manion, for all his radical pretensions, is more orthodox than he imagines. His belief that public services should be redefined so that they ‘support and promote a safe, decent, healthy, responsible society’ is already in the mainstream of public service reform. The problems that he raises - both cultural and fiscal - are no less real and pressing for that, however, and he is to be commended for taking them seriously.

August 2011

The Big Irony

Far from representing a challenge to Big State, the Big Society is providing a new rationale for institution-building and state-led activity in the community. And far from offering opportunities for the enterprising, it appeals to elite prejudices about people’s incapacities and about the way we live our lives.

April 2011

Self-sufficiency with a ‘helping hand’

You’d be hard pushed to find a truly ‘people’s’ project among the 28 featured in the glossy pages of Hand Made. At the risk of sounding like a cynic, too many of the projects lend themselves not to the interests of residents, but to the pet-prejudices of a bunch of trendy interlopers.

May 2010

IoI Social Policy Forum: Election Statement

The task of reforming the welfare state should not be treated as an accounting exercise, but an opportunity to reassess what the state is for. For instance, ‘welfare’ in its narrowest sense is widely understood to be failing. While we need a benefits system that helps people to live their lives as independently as possible, we don’t one that imposes conditions on people claiming benefits, blames them for their predicament and society’s problems, or fails to provide them with the jobs they need.

January 2010

Putting the brum back into Brummie

In the driving seat, an apt metaphor, given the city’s love affair with the motor car, were the ‘Lunar Men’, or ‘Lunaticks’ as they dubbed themselves. The Lunar Society met when the moon shone brightest, as that was the only way they could get home safely from their highbrow gatherings. They were, like most modern day Brummies, inventive, practical souls – but more than that, they were men of ideas.

March 2009

A crisis of adulthood

Our over-protection of children is very much a hand-me-down from officials and self-appointed experts, with parents constantly playing catch-up, desperately wondering what they should be worrying about next. 


This rotting metropolis

There is enough going on with Akira, visually and intellectually, to keep it engaging. Perhaps its unique selling point is that it depicts a city that is both pre-and post-apocalyptic, cut off from its destructive past but consequently in fear of its future. Neo Tokyo is all too familiar.

October 2008

The Culture of Adoption

There is an assumption that people in general are increasingly vulnerable and in need of ‘support’. In this sense, the adoption reforms are a product of a wider ‘cultural’ problem – not in the ethnic or anthropological sense, but with regards our political culture and the ideas that it tends to generate.

April 2008

Being ‘normal’

Instead of the focus being on the deformed Merrick and his travails, it is the Elephant Man as metaphor for the society of which he was a part that truly resonates.

December 2007

Full Time

Girls who want to play football, Asian kids who can’t get selected, others beaten up because they’re gay – this era-defining play, which will tour UK schools next autumn, ticks all the boxes. As Steve, our hip young host tells the kids in the schools ‘you can be homophobic against heterosexuals too’. With these words ringing in our confused ears, the sad (because its, like, real) spectacle began.


Risk and Childhood

This conference was a curious affair. The clear message from the opening address was that childhood, like much else about life today, is less risky now than it ever was in the past. This seemed like a good start to a day of debunking risks, and a full frontal assault on our risk society. Or so I had hoped.

November 2006

Leadership in communities

Poverty does not emanate from the intellectual failings of tenants, but from the historic failure to develop the material base of localities affected by long-standing economic decline.

August 2006

Shattered Lives - Children Who Live with Courage and Dignity

Batmanghelidjh claims to uphold the resilience of her subjects, but simultaneously denies them the agency needed to break free of the destructive cycles of abuse, or the intrusive recall of childhood traumas in later life, to which she insists they are or will be subject.

February 2006

‘If Britain wants decent and efficient public services, it should hand over to the private sector’

Throwing up our hands in despair at failing services is understandable. But I fail to see how adding yet more fragmentation and disjointment to that already inflicted by two decades of market reform will remedy the situation.

February 2004

Clear: A Transparent Novel - (Man Booker Prize 2004, Longlist)

On the surface, Clear is about Blaine and his box. The Above the Below circus at London’s Tower Bridge is backdrop; common curiosity drawing the characters into their strangely fractured discourses in its shadow; and a shared lexicon through which they interrogate each other.

January 2004

Civil Society

Despite alluding to the vacuity of public debate, Edwards fails to address the problem head on.

From dystopia to myopia: Metropolis to Blade Runner

From the late nineties on, there has been a marked retreat into the inner world, into childhood and away from dirty, complicated reality.

February 2003

The Taxi Driver’s Daughter - (Man Booker Prize 2003)

Caris ‘had never really thought about what she didn’t have, about the world outside her street and school’ until her mother was arrested.


Culture Wars was included in creativetourists’ Top 25 UK Arts & Culture Blogs 2009.