Social Policy – Lecture 1 (January 15 ) th
Social Policy –
not only encompasses welfare but the activities of the government that affects social life
o marriage and divorce legislation
o culture and the arts are examples of social policy
the term is usually linked with economic policy
social policy does look at the economy but it favors the economic growth and seeing if people
are doing okay
Four Key Functions in Mainstream Social Policy –
the government has a responsibility
to make sure people are not starving
the government has a right to intervene in areas of individual freedom
if they think that it is severe enough than they do have the right to intervene in your personal
the government can also intervene in markets to a certain extent
when existing institutions are failing somehow
such as social institutions
children that are being abused – the government has the right to take that child away from
if they fail to fulfill their obligations
public policies create social impacts
for example – if you invade a country then you are putting them in poverty because the
government caused the damage and poverty because they invaded in the first place
o therefore, the government has to provide the refugees with aid and stuff that they need
In this mainstream view – there are debates about when and how and if the government should get
Is the government responsible for providing shelter for the homeless?
If the person does not want the government to intervene should the government back off?
Should the government intervene in housing?
How much should a country pay for welfare? –
Should our country pay for environmental clean-up?
The people usually put on the hook to clean-up the environment is the government Poverty alleviation?
o Markets cause the poverty or they are the cure for poverty
Child Welfare –
o Should the government be able to invade houses and say that they are not parenting
Human Rights –
o Should the government intervene in people protesting against human rights?
o Should the government hold “interventions”?
Health Care –
o Should the government help us from pandemics?
o Or should we use our own discretion and knowledge?
Cultural Preservation –
o Should we protect Canadian identities so we do not become identical to the Americans?
o Our government spends huge amounts of money to protect the Canadian identity
o Who uses the knowledge that we gain through our education?
o Who benefits from us being educated?
o It’s kind of like an apprentice system
Economic Growth –
o There are huge debates over whether there should be economic growths
o To have economic growth it is said that we have to have a totalitarian government
Humanitarian Assistance –
o Are we responsible for feeding starving children in other countries?
All of these things are PART of social policy
But the definition is not enough
The reason it is not enough is because the mainstream definition focuses on JUST the
Social policy is also enacted by civil society and business
If we just look at the government perspective we are ignoring other social policy factors in the
Types of Social Policy –
o Advertising by business has the intent of changing who we are
o A form of engineering
o Advertising is pointed at changing people’s perspectives of the world
o This is for profit of a company
o Ronald McDonald House – basically hires people to do social work
o Corporate social responsibility and charity programs
o Some people say that they are just there so people will stop picking on them
o Gives hope and support to vulnerable people
o A lot of organizations that do social policy started off religious
o They all do social policy
o Often use the acronym CBO (Community Based Organizations) Another Issue with Mainstream Social Policy –
it is often held a part from other institutions in society
socially constructed field in which people interact socially
people interact with one another socially
the economy impacts people socially – but is also socially created
corporations are doing social policy
all social policy has causes and consequences
all of our policy takes place in social institutions therefore all policy is social policy
Summary – New Definition of Social Policy
a plan of action implemented by government, business or civil society
for the purpose of influencing the structure of society
distribution of resources in society
working in social institutions such as
o health care
Big Ideas in Social Policy –
Liberalism (Structural Functionalism)
o A Western, European idea
o The most powerful (big idea) for guiding policy
o In the middle ages
o Was a Christian Empire
o Feudal System
Emerged after the fall of the Roman Empire
Based on lineage
Hierarchical power structure
Justified by religion (Christianity)
You were born into power – based on who your parents were
The person at the top was the person in power – they could do anything they
wanted to the people below them
the person at the top was put into power by GOD
tensions started to emerge in the Feudal System
killed 50% of population in the 14 Century
Poverty of the Masses
Increased economic inequality
A Rise of Merchant Class –
Arose as a result of colonialism
Became wealthy by trading with India, Americans, Asia
Could have their property taken by the king at any time
These place eventually came to be controlled by European powers
Became financially powerful but lived in a totalitarian regime – so everything
they had could have been taken away from them by the king Revolutions –
Were ideologically propelled by the idea of liberalism which had emerged
in the climate of the multiple tensions of the middle ages
What is Liberalism?
Is an ideology that promotes the freedom of the individual in