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What is (Adult) Social Care in England? Its origins and meaning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-56
Number of pages12
JournalResearch, Policy and Planning
Issue number2
DateAccepted/In press - 20 Aug 2019
DatePublished (current) - Sep 2019


The term ‘social care’ emerged in both official and academic publications in England in the 1990s but has not been defined in legislation. How the phrase has varied in usage over the last 20 plus years is outlined in this article. Whilst the element of ‘personal care’ has been present in the range of descriptions of ‘social care’, the policy context has changed dramatically, affecting the broader debate about priorities in public support for vulnerable adults. What ‘social care’ means as a policy rather than a practice has changed over time. The notion of indeterminacy provides a plausible explanation of changes in terminology and meaning in policies and practices.

    Research areas

  • Social care, adult social care, personal care, Indeterminacy



  • Full-text PDF (accepted author manuscript)

    Rights statement: This is the author accepted manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via Social Services Research Group at Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

    Accepted author manuscript, 317 KB, PDF document


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