The following are things I have read which have influenced my thinking. They are not the only things (memory is not perfect), nor are they necessarily the most important. Inevitably they partly reflect fashions in public policy debate, which change over time.
If nothing else, this list (which I will continue to add to as I remember things) acts as a reminder to me of things I once thought mattered!
Piketty, T. (2014) Capital in the Twenty First Century . Harvard University Press – the most coherent (to a non-economist) account of the long term development of capitalism, and why unregulated capitalism leads inevitably to the concentration of wealth and power, and growing inequality
Stiglitz, J.E., Sen, A., Fitoussi, J-P, (2011) Report of the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Progress. www.stiglitz-sen-fitoussi.fr/docuents/rapport_anglais.pdf . – moved the wellbeing debate to a global level, achieving recognition from governments and intergovernmental organisations, especially the OECD.
Pickett, K. and Wilkinson, R. (2010) The Spirit Level: why equality is better for everyone Penguin Books – a major analysis of data on inequality, demonstrating (to my eyes) how extensive and damaging to society, and everyone in it, inequality is
Casebourne, J. et al. (2008) Coventry: Learning and Skills Council The Impact of Learning on Employability , Coventry: Learning and Skills Council – an analysis of the experience of all those in FE courses who were unemployed at the time of enrolment (sample of 10,000). Challenges some of our assumptions about the role of learning in employability.
Layard, R. (2005) Happiness: Lessons from a New Science. London. Penguin – the first shot in the campaign to establish wellbeing as a legitimate objective for public policy.
Hutton, W. (1995) The State We’re In. London. Jonathan Cape – powerful account of damage created to our society by our constitution and institutions, and by our peculiar economic model. Still relevant, and offers a plausible explanation of how we got into the problems of the 21st century
Handy, C. (1994) The Empty Raincoat. London. Hutchinson – along with other Handy work made me think differently about work and where it fits in life and the economy.
Hofstede, G. (1991) Cultures and Organisations: Software of the Mind. McGraw Hill – the book that helped me to make sense of national cultural differences when I began to be seriously involved in transnational policy and research
Reich, R.B, (1991) The Work of Nations: a blueprint for the future. London, Simon & Schuster – the first book I read which presented a coherent account of what is/was happening to work in the global economy, and its implications for the future of work (in retrospect seems prescient!)
Advisory Council for Adult and Continuing Education (1982) Continuing Education: from Policies to Practice. Leicester, NIACE. – a major detailed review of how lifelong learning might be reconfigured in England and Wales, stepping out of old simplicities of “liberal”, “vocational” etc. The report which, with the encouragement of Naomi Sargent (who chaired its steering group) persuaded me to make a career in lifelong learning national policy.
Halsey, A.H. (1972) Educational Priority: problems and policies. London, HMSO – the report which first prompted me to think seriously about the role of education in overcoming social exclusion.
Meadows, D.H. et al (1972) The Limits to Growth: a report for the Club of Rome’s Project on the Predicament of Mankind. – the report which first started me thinking about the environment, and the need for sustainable economics
There may be things I have forgotten, or that you think I did, or should have, read, in which case please feel free to add suggestions in the form below!