This introductory chapter discusses the theoretical issues, starting with the impact of ‘difference’ and diversity. It points out the continuing significance of the ongoing structural forces that condition the choices of people, and looks at how to bring experiential diversity and the effects of structure together in a simple model. The discussion introduces two terms, social regulation and difference within difference, which are used further on in the book. The chapter also provides an analysis in relation to welfare state theory, which is then followed by an outline of the material on the policy context and a summary of the UK welfare state changes since the end of the 1970s.
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