Description of modern theory of social policy

Essay by grahammurphCollege, UndergraduateB-, March 2004

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Social Policy

The name 'social policy' is used to apply

1. to the policies which governments use for welfare and social protection

2. to the ways in which welfare is developed in a society, and

3. to the academic study of the subject.

In the first sense, social policy is particularly concerned with social services and the welfare state. In the second, broader sense, it stands for a range of issues extending far beyond the actions of government - the means by which welfare is promoted, and the social and economic conditions, which shape the development of welfare.

Social Policy and Administration

Social Policy and Administration is an academic subject concerned with the study of social services and the welfare state. It developed in the early part of the 20th century as a complement to social work studies, aimed at people who would be professionally involved in the administration of welfare.

In the course of the last forty years, the range and breadth of the subject has developed. The principal areas relate to

"h policy and administrative practice in social services, including health administration, social security, education, employment services, community care and housing management;

"h social problems, including crime, disability, unemployment, mental health, learning disability, and old age;

"h issues relating to social disadvantage, including race, gender and poverty; and

"h the range of collective social responses to these conditions.

Social Policy is a subject area, not a discipline; it borrows from other social science disciplines in order to develop study in the area. The contributory disciplines include sociology, social work, psychology, economics, political science, management, history, philosophy and law.


Welfare is an ambiguous term, used in three main senses:

"h Welfare commonly refers to 'well-being'. In welfare economics, welfare is understood in terms of 'utility'; people's well being...