Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice Theses

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This collection is made up of doctoral and master theses by research, which have been received in accordance with university regulations.

For more information, please visit the UCD Library Theses Information guide.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 3 of 3
  • Publication
    Collaborative Governance and Youth Work Policy: A study of Youth Work Committee dynamics, actions and local policy impacts
    (University College Dublin. School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice, 2023)
    Collaborative governance theories are well debated, however the current body of knowledge identifies the evaluation of collaborative governance settings as problematic, with calls for research into this perceived gap in the literature. Currently, data is needed to understand the policy impacts and performance of collaborative actions. Youth Work Committees (YWC) can be viewed as a mode of collaborative governance, and they are an appropriate site to make both theoretical and practical contributions to the literature. The thesis study assesses the impact of collaborative governance in YWCs in the improvement of policy outcomes for young people in Ireland. The aim of the thesis study is to begin with a problem, and answer two questions to greater understand stakeholder perspectives of collaborative governance: How YWCs in Ireland function? (RQ1); and, How stakeholders perceive the relationship between YWC collaboration dynamics, YWC actions and policy impacts? (RQ2) The research methodology is interpretivist in orientation. While the secondary research engages with collaborative governance literature and YWC materials, the primary research explores perceptions of how YWC stakeholders work together effectively in youth work policy implementation. Data from a cross-section of their experiences were gathered from sixteen digital interviews, offering views of the relationships between the concepts being examined. Thematic analysis was first used to identify key patterns in the interview data. The conceptual framework was then employed to further operationalise, analyse and interpret this qualitative data, as adapted from Emerson et al.’s 2012 Integrative Framework. Based on the findings, answering the two RQs adds new understanding and insights into what facilitates YWC functioning and efficacy. Youth work governance in Ireland has undergone a significant period of intense change since the early 2000s, and the thesis study contributes to a better understanding of how changing governance has been viewed and experienced by stakeholders on the ground. These findings are based on the themes that emerged from the interview data: (i) understanding the structure and dynamics of YWCs; (ii) hearing and acting on the voices of young people; and (iii) the concept of power in such a collaborative governance setting. In conclusion, the thesis study makes both theoretical and practical contributions that address the gap identified in the literature. It informs the debate on collaborative governance process, performance, and enabling factors. Collaboration dynamics enable actions that are likely to effect change in response to intended policy outcomes. From a youth work practice perspective, the thesis study also contributes to an understanding of how collaborative governance in YWCs enhances the effective oversight of limited resources, to deliver actions, and to achieve identifiable outcomes. Therefore, the thesis study concludes that when certain factors are present in collaborative governance settings, their actions produce policy impacts.
  • Publication
    An Algorithmic Theory of the Policy Process
    With a few exceptions, current theories of the policy process do not model or measure the policy process using the graphical process notations that are common within information science, business administration and many natural sciences. The reason is that in the post-war period the needs of business process analysis came to dominate social science applications of process science whilst the needs of public policy process analysis remained largely unaddressed. As a result, modern graphical process notations can encode and quantify the instrumental properties of cost and efficiency of a business process, but not the normative properties of transparency, accountability or legitimacy of the much more complex policy making process. There have been many other unfortunate consequences. Business process modelling evolved into business process reengineering and became a critical enabler of a period of unprecedented hyper-globalization commencing in the 1990’s. However, it did so by encoding and quantifying the instrumental dimensions of cost and efficiency of globalized production processes and not their normative dimensions of domestic employment and social welfare transfers. We live with the consequences to this day of the emergence of destabilizing populist national movements and rising security and defense tensions between former trading partners. However, in recent years, there have been several important new developments. Firstly, a new class of process modelling tools has emerged at the juncture of the disciplines of information science and business administration that can model much more complex governance and policy-making processes as rules based declarative process graphs instead of sequence based imperative process graphs. Secondly, information science is now introducing a capacity for normative reasoning and moral dilemma resolution into a range of technologies from multi-agent systems and artificial societies to self-driving vehicles and autonomous battle drones. This creates new opportunities for a collaboration between policy process analysis and information science to reengineer legacy policy making processes and organizations in terms of normatively driven declarative processes. Not only must these reengineered policy making processes score better against instrumental criteria of cost and efficiency but also against the normative criteria of transparency, accountability, and legitimacy. Consequently, the metrics presented in this dissertation re-connect public policy process analysis with the tools and results of decades of process research in the fields of information science, business administration and many natural sciences, and supports a new theory of the public policy process as an algorithm whose purpose is the generation of solutions to public goods allocation problems. To illustrate the principles of the techniques involved and the utility of the approach, a case study analysis and prediction of Chinese public health policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020/21 is presented.
  • Publication
    Transitions Into, Through and Out of Homeless: Quantitative Analysis of Administrative Data on Single Adults' Emergency Accommodation Use in the Dublin Region between 2016 and 2018
    (University College Dublin. School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice, 2022) ;
    This thesis employs statistical analysis of administrative data on single adult users of emergency accommodation for homeless people in Dublin. Together with theories of ‘housing transitions’ (e.g. Beer, et al, 2011; McNaughton, 2008) and the structural, experiential and life course factors which shape these, a new framework has been generated to analyse, explain and predict patterns of entry and exit from homelessness and of emergency accommodation use. In addition to making an original theoretician and empirical contribution to research on homelessness this analysis has the potential to inform the reform of homeless service to maximise rates of exit from homelessness. The data, which cover the period 2016-2018, are drawn from a local government managed on-line database which records each homeless person's emergency accommodation use, their demographic characteristics, personal histories and medical and addiction treatment. They were collated, cleaned and analysed using a variety of statistical techniques including, descriptive statistics, cluster and regression analysis. This analysis suggests that extensive literature on homeless emergency accommodation use underestimates the importance of stability of service use in predicting chances of exiting homelessness. Many homeless people use this accommodation solely for short-term emergency housing and then leave without support. However, very stable emergency accommodation users, who use this accommodation for 95% or more of their period of homelessness, are more likely to remain homeless for longer and to need support (eg, social housing provision) in order to exit. Patterns of emergency accommodation entry, usage and exit also vary significantly across the life course and depending on prior and concurrent significant life crises. Homeless people of all ages are highly likely to have experience of institutional living in prison, residential care or mental health or additional treatment facilities for instance. For young people entry to homelessness is associated with breakdown of relationships with parents or caregivers.