This paper introduces this themed issue of Critical Social Policy on the question of corporate power. Corporate power is recognized as an important agent in social policy making and delivery. However, to date there has been comparatively little attention to the crucial role that lobbying and corporate ‘spin’ play in helping to shape policy making contexts. This special issue of Critical Social Policy is concerned to bring such issues to the mainstream of social policy analysis. It is argued here that the rise of spin and public relations is a key feature of neoliberalism in the past two decades. These have worked to reshape policy making, resulting in pronounced changes in the content and process of policy making and it is argued that these have tended to marginalize or undermine democratic processes.