Promoting social change: the experience of health action zones in England

Bauld, L., Judge, K., Barnes, M., Benzeval, M., Mackenzie, M. and Sullivan, H. (2005) Promoting social change: the experience of health action zones in England. Journal of Social Policy, 34(3), pp. 427-445. (doi: 10.1017/S0047279405008858)



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When New Labour came to power in the UK in 1997 it brought with it a strong commitment to reducing inequality and social exclusion. One strand of its strategy involved a focus on area-based initiatives to reduce the effects of persistent disadvantage. Health Action Zones (HAZs) were the first example of this type of intervention, and their focus on community-based initiatives to tackle the wider social determinants of health inequalities excited great interest both nationally and internationally. This article draws on findings from the national evaluation of the initiative. It provides an overview of the HAZ experience, and explores why many of the great expectations associated with HAZs at their launch failed to materialise. It suggests that, despite their relatively limited impact, it is best to consider that they made a good start in difficult circumstances rather than that they failed. As a result there are some important lessons to be learned about the role of complex community-based interventions in tackling seemingly intractable social problems for policy-makers, practitioners and evaluators. Social programs are complex undertakings. They are an amalgam of dreams and personalities, rooms and theories, paper clips and organisational structure, clients and activities, budgets and photocopies, and great intentions.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Benzeval, Dr Michaela and Mackenzie, Professor Mhairi
Authors: Bauld, L., Judge, K., Barnes, M., Benzeval, M., Mackenzie, M., and Sullivan, H.
Subjects:H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Social Scientists working in Health and Wellbeing
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing > Centre for Population and Health Sciences
Journal Name:Journal of Social Policy
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN (Online):1469-7823
Published Online:15 June 2005
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2005 Cambridge University Press
First Published:First published in Journal of Social Policy 34(3):427-445
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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