I’ve recently added a section to the page of readings in Social Policy on my website, identifying the most cited works in Social Policy. These are all the pieces I’ve identified so far that have more than 5000 citations on Google Scholar.
|P Freire, The pedagogy of the oppressed, 1970||51179|
|M Foucault, Discipline and punish (Surveiller et punir), 1975||50195|
|R Puttnam, Bowling alone, 2001||35667|
|J Coleman, Social capital in the formation of human capital, American Journal of Sociology 1988||31530|
|G Hardin, The tragedy of the commons, Science 1968||28073|
|A Sen, Development as freedom, 1999||23973|
|G Esping-Andersen The three worlds of welfare capitalism, 1990||23146|
|A Maslow, A theory of human motivation, Psychological Review 1942||15472|
|W Wilson The truly disadvantaged, Chicago 1987||14825|
|M Friedman, Capitalism and freedom, Chicago 1962||14674|
|J Coleman, Equality of educational opportunity, 1966||13006|
|S Arnstein, A ladder of citizen participation, Journal of the American Town Planning Institute 1969||11017|
|WHO, International classification of functioning, disability and health||9371|
|E Goffman, Asylums, Penguin 1961||9133|
|A Sen, Poverty and famines , Oxford 1983||8922|
|M Foucault, Madness and civilisation (Historie de la folie) 1961||8357|
|R Herrnstein, C Murray, The Bell Curve, 1994||7681|
|A Hollingshead, F Redlich, Social class and mental illness, 1958||7549|
|C Hood, A public management for all seasons?, Public Administration 1991||7498|
|M Lipsky, Street level bureaucracy, 1980||7249|
|T Marshall, Citizenship and social class, 1950||7163|
|J Habermas, Legitimation crisis, 1975||6703|
|A Sen, Commodities and capabilities, 1999||6286|
|WHO, World Health Report 2002||6046|
|R Thaler, C Sunstein, Nudge, 2009||5842|
|C Pollitt, G Bouckaert, Public management reform, 2004||5693|
|S Bowles, H Gintis, Schooling in capitalist America, 1976||5448|
|C Jencks, Inequality, 1972||5434|
Using a count of citations biases the list towards inter-disciplinary stuff (such as Freire or Maslow) and American sources (such as Coleman or Hollingshead and Redlich.) By comparison, well-known works in the UK like Poverty in the United Kingdom or The Gift Relationship only weigh in at about 3500 each. After I’d put up the first draft of this list on the Social Policy mailing list, I had an excited request from George Couthino, a lecturer in Brazil, who wanted to know more about the impact of Paulo Freire. I’ve posted a comment about Freire on his blog.
It’s difficult to know what to include, and what not. If you believe that everything about society or politics is also about social policy, there’s no basis to leave out anything written in the social sciences. I left out things that seemed to me to be mainstream social theory (such as Foucault’s History of Sexuality, or Bourdieu), political theory (A Theory of Justice), econometrics (the FGT index) or about other subjects (The Limits to Growth). I couldn’t quite decide about Beck’s Risk Society (27754) but on balance I don’t think there’s enough policy in it to be included; I also dropped Goffman’s Stigma (23066) on the same basis.
It probably shouldn’t pass comment, too, that some of the pieces that do get included are pretty dreadful. Hardin doesn’t understand there’s a distinction between communal grazing of land and robbing a bank. Foucault was clueless about mental illness (try Kay Jones’ Asylums and After for a corrective). The Bell Curve is racist. If we’re going to cite these works, we should know what’s in them.
Update, April 2017: This list has recently been updated on the website page covering readings in Social Policy. Blog entries have an original date and don’t generally get updated; the website, which is an educational resources, does.