What is Social Policy

What is Social Policy?

Social Policy is the survey of societal public assistance and the manner in which authoritiess have tried to supply for their citizens, every bit good as its relationship to political relations and the political docket and how this impacts on society ( Demaine 2001 ) . When we think of societal public assistance, we are normally mentioning to wellness and societal attention, poorness, societal security and employment ( Demaine 2001 ) . Social policy reflects the manner in which the province looks after vulnerable groups in society and as such it focuses on the societal services and the public assistance province ( Dalrymple 2003 ) . Social Policy is besides an academic topic which developed in the early portion of the 20Thursdaycentury which surveies societal services and the public assistance province ( Durkin 1995 ) .

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When we think of societal policy in the UK, we are peculiarly concerned with the security and wellbeing of every citizen regardless of age, sex, race, civilization or faith, and as such it has developed the rule of catholicity ( Giddens 1997 ) . Social policy is besides concerned with a scope of issues widening far beyond the actions of authorities ( Giddens 1997 ) . Such issues are the agencies by which public assistance is promoted, and the societal and economic conditions which shape the development of public assistance. The beginnings of the public assistance province can be traced back 100s of old ages. At first support was merely provided for the really hapless, but bit by bit the range of the public assistance province was extended and this led to the modern public assistance province which established the rule of universalism ( Durkin 1995 ) .

It is inevitable that we will hold poorness in the sort of society we live in. We live in a society where there are categories and the hapless are those at the really underside of the category syatem. However, it can be argued that person has to be at the underside of all systems. Since the nature of our capitalist society is to let some people to be better off than others, those at the underside will be hapless comparative to those at the top ( Dalrymple 2003 ) . Poverty consequences from holding an unequal society. These are the issues which are examined by thse who are responsible for developing societal betterments and political dockets.

There are differeing positions as to why we have such an unequal society, and this is an country which is scrutinised by those analyzing societal services and the public assistance province, both of which are the chief facets of societal policy. In other words, sentiments differ harmonizing to the manner in which sociologists view the public assistance province and the manner it operates ( Giddens 1997 ) . For illustration, for functionalists, the state of affairs is acceptable, even the best state of affairs. Relative poorness is a kind of side consequence of honoring those who have endowment and work hard. They believe that poorness is unfortunate, but necessary for society to work ( Giddens 1997 ) . Marxists, on the other manus, believe we live in a capitalist society that allows some people to go really rich by doing net incomes out of the work of others. They province that the system is unfair and is based entirely on development ( Giddens 1997 ) . It is hence inevitable in this sort of society that some people will be hapless and in demand of the public assistance province ( Dalrymple 2003 ) . Marxists besides argue that poorness can even be utile to the capitalist system ; it helps to maintain rewards down and thereby it helps the rich company proprietors.

Students of societal policy are keenly interested in the manner the public assistance system operates and why it is needed. The thought of an lower class is used in some structural accounts ( such as functionalism or Marxism ) ( Giddens 1997 ) . This phrase is used as a simple description of those who are at the underside of the category system and can non easy get away. Among the groups that have been said to be likely to belong to the lower class are:

  • aged people populating on the province pension
  • lone parents and their kids
  • immature people without accomplishments and makings
  • the long-run unemployed
  • some minority cultural groups

( Polock 2004 )

Harmonizing to some sociologists and their survey of societal policy and its connexion to the current political system, our modern society dictates that the lower class in non merely the lowest degree of society ; it is cut off from society so that people in the lower class can non acquire back into mainstream society. Peoples in the lower class are hence trapped there ; they can non easy get away from their poorness. Surviving on a low income is so clip devouring that it becomes impossible to interrupt out.

This leads to another term used in accounts of societal policy – the poorness trap. This is the thought that one time in poorness it is difficult to get away ( Giddens 1997 ) . For illustration, person on a low pay who got a wage rise might lose their entitlement to means-tested benefits, and be no better off. It must be remembered that it can be expensive to be hapless. For illustration, if a individual has merely a limited sum of money each hebdomad, they can merely purchase little sums of nutrients and necessities. They are unable to purchase in majority, although larger battalions and measures work out cheaper ( Dalrymple 2003 ) . Those who depend on societal public assistance to populate must besides shop at their local little store ; the supermarket may be an expensive coach sit off. The local store will be more expensive but may be willing to sell little measures.

The structural accounts for poorness can be really convincing. However, the biggest job with structural accounts is that they make poorness seem inevitable and connote it is something that stems from the manner society or facets of it are organised ; it is non the mistake of the hapless themselves ( Dalrymple 2003 ) . Such accounts make poorness seem an about impossible job to work out and many sociologists do non hold with this manner of specifying or explicating poorness.

As portion of a survey of societal policy, it is necessary to look at the public assistance province and how it provides for the most vulnerable in society. The basic rule of the public assistance province is that a community should look after everyone who is portion of it. This system assumes that those who are good away should lend portion of what they have to supply for those in demand. In a public assistance province, this is organised through the authorities through a system of revenue enhancement and public assistance benefits. During World War II in 1942, a commission chaired by Sir William Beveridge produced a study naming for a to the full developed public assistance province ( Pollock 2004 ) . The Beveridge Report provided a vision of what Britain would be like after the war and the chief thoughts were put into consequence by the Labour authorities of 1945 to 1951 ( Webster 2002 ) .

If we look at the route to societal Reconstruction and advancement as proposed by Beveridge, we can understand how important this new public assistance province was to the citizens of Britain at this clip. The new National Insurance Acts extended old age pensions, unemployment and sickness benefit to everyone ( Pollock 2004 ) . Although there was still a needs trial to do certain claims were echt, this was less rough than the old means trial. It was besides at this clip that the National Health Service was introduced. This was to be a wholly free ( including prescriptions ) service which covered physicians, lens makers, tooth doctors and other signifiers of necessary wellness attention ( Pollock 2004 ) . Equally good as looking after the nations’s wellness, free secondary instruction for all was besides promised. Slums were demoloshed and a monolithic edifice programme began including big Numberss of council houses for rent. The authorities besides committed itself to the end of full employment ; that is, that everyone who wanted to work should be able to ( Webster 2002 ) .

The new public assistance province built on the foundations laid before but was a immense measure frontward. It was based non on assisting merely the poorest, but on supplying security for everyone. It was cosmopolitan – that is, everyone was entitled to it. This was the really kernel of societal policy. It was later to be changed by consecutive authoritiess, but the basic construction remained more or less the same ( Pollock 2004 ) . In the undermentioned decennaries there was a move off from the thought of universalism, for illustration there was the debut of prescription charges for those who could afford it. Charges were besides brought in for some medical services and private wellness attention was encouraged ( Pollock 2004 ) .

The present public assistance province no longer provides attention from cradle to sculpt. Most of its cosmopolitan commissariats are reserved for kids and the aged ; those who can are expected to look after themselves – by taking out wellness insurance, holding a private pension, and having their ain place instead than leasing a council house ( Webster 2002 ) . The aureate age wlefare province brought in by Labour was difficult to keep as costs went up and the economic state of affairs declined. In the 1980s, there was a alteration in societal policy as the Conservatives shifted off from cosmopolitan commissariats and towards promoting people to trust on themselves, non on the public assistance province ( Webster 2002 ) .

There is no uncertainty that societal policy over the latter portion of the 20Thursdaycentury tackled legion societal ailments. However, the public assistance province has been accused of assisting those who do non necessitate aid, at the disbursal of those who do ( Durkin 1995 ) . The societal rule of catholicity ( everyone holding the same entitlements, nevertheless good off they are ) , means that, for illustration, even rich people receive child benefit and free wellness attention ( unless they choose private wellness attention ) ( Webster 2002 ) . It is besides true to state that some groups of people are far more likely to endure from a scope of disadvantages than other groups ( Dalrymple 2003 ) . The public assistance province has non eliminated inequality ; it has non ensured that everyone is treated every bit ( Durkin 1995 ) . These are issues that societal policy strives to analyze to nail the grounds behind the inequality in society.

As we examine societal policy in the visible radiation of the public assistance province and political solutions to societal jobs, we can see that there have been legion betterments in the quality of life and there has been besides the proviso of a safety cyberspace for many vulnerable people ( Pollock 2004 ) . However, it failed to acquire rid of poorness and inequality. For some people, the public assistance province has failed in these ways because it has non been adequately funded. They insist that if societal jobs are to be tackled efficaciously, funding demands to be increased ( Pollock 2004 ) . On the other manus, other people argue that the public assistance province really created some of the jobs. They province it has gone excessively far and needs to be reformed and reduced because it encourages people to be inactive, non willing to make anything for themwselves to better their state of affairs ( Pollock 2004 ) . It is by looking at such pros and cons of assorted facets of societal policy that countries can be identified which do take to an betterment in people’s lives.

In decision, as sociologists define societal policy and analyze the cardinal facets, they need to inquire many inquiries. These include placing to what extent the public assistance province has succeeded in get rid ofing poorness and inequality ( Dalrymple 2003 ) . Besides, should discrimination by sex have been built into the original public assistance safety cyberspace as there are still assorted inequalities between work forces and adult females? If the present authorities was committed to get rid ofing poorness today, what should its head proposals be? Once such countries have been investigated and researched, sociologists will be closer to placing precisely what current societal policy should be every bit good as the type of societal policy we need to eliminate inequality in modern twenty-four hours Britain.


Dalrymple, T, 2003,Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Lower class, Ivan R Dee, Chicago.

Demaine, J, 2001,Sociology of Education Today, Palgrave, Hampshire.

Durkin, K, 1995,Developmental Social Psychology, From Infancy to Old Age, Blackwell, Oxford.

Giddens, A, 1997,Sociology, Polity Press, Cambridge.

Pollock, A M, 2004,NHS Plc: The Denationalization of Our Health Care, Verso Books, London.

Webster, C, 2002,The National Health Service: A Political History, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

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