Paul Spicker

Professor Paul Spicker is a writer and commentator on social policy. His published work includes 22 books, several reports and shorter works and nearly a hundred academic papers. A range of work is available on open access on this website. His studies of housing and welfare rights developed from his early career; since then, his research has included studies related to benefit delivery systems, the care of old people, psychiatric patients, housing management and local anti-poverty strategy. He is a consultant on social welfare in practice, and has done work for a range of agencies at local, national and international levels. After teaching at Nottingham Trent University and the University of Dundee, he held the Grampian Chair of Public Policy at Robert Gordon University from 2001-2015. He is now an Emeritus Professor of RGU.


Paul Spicker’s books have been published in 14 countries and 9
languages. They include:
Books by Paul Spicker

There are longer publication lists on Google Scholar and ORCID. Click on the links for more details.

Recent publications and papers


  1. Austerity and poverty, in B Greve (ed), Handbook on Austerity, Populism and the Welfare State, Edward Elgar.
  2. Oral evidence to the House of Commons Welsh Affairs Committee, The benefit system in Wales, 3rd November
  3. Research is not a private matter, ch  3 of R Iphofen and D O’Mathuna (eds) Ethical issues in covert, security and surveillance research, Emerald
  4. R Iphofen S Kolstoe, K Macnish, P Spicker, D O’Mathúna, Guidance Notes for Reviewers and Policymakers on Covert, Deceptive and Surveillance Research, in R Iphofen and D O’Mathuna (eds) Ethical issues in covert, security and surveillance research, Emerald.


  1. How to fix the welfare stateHow to fix the welfare state: some ideas for better social services, Policy Press.
  2. One size fits all? The problems of offering ethical guidance to everyone, chapter 2,  in R Iphofen, D O’Matuna (eds) Ethical evidence and policymaking, Policy Press.
  3. Ethical research in public policy,  chapter 7 in  Iphofen and O’Matuna (eds)
  4. Fraternity and solidarity: socialist thought and social policy, Hermeneutica, 2022 Nuevo Serie: Fraternità senza terrore, pp 274-292.
  5. States and welfare states: government for the people, Policy Press.


1.  Podcast: Statecraft, with Colin Talbot  (a discussion of States and Welfare States).
2.  Benefit levels in the UK: Written evidence, House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee.
3.  Discretion in overpayment recovery, Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law (Open access).
4.  The welfare state: a general theory (2023 revised edition, online)
5.  The welfare state: a communitarian perspective, paper presented to the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research and Data  conference, June 2023
6.  The effect of treating public services as commodities. Public Money & Management,

Also available

The page of Open Access materials in this blog includes previously published books, sample chapters held at the Robert Gordon University‘s repository, and more than a hundred papers and reports. Seven of the books listed above are now available free of charge on open access: three more  can be consulted onlne without charge.

    • Stigma and social welfare (1984)
    • Principles of social welfare (1989)
    • Poverty and social security (1993)
    • Social policy in a changing society (written with Maurice Mullard, 1998)
    • The welfare state: a general theory (2000; revised edition, 2023)
    • Liberty, equality, fraternity (2006)
    • Poverty: an international glossary (2007)
    • The origins of modern welfare (2010)

There is a web page to complement Social Policy: Theory and Practice.