Article

Social Policy

Mara Yerkes

in Sociology

ISBN: 9780199756384
Published online February 2013 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0094
Social Policy

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  • Sociology
  • Comparative and Historical Sociology
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  • Social Movements and Social Change
  • Social Stratification, Inequality, and Mobility
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Social policy exists as an academic discipline but also refers to the practice of policymaking and administration (including service delivery). As an academic discipline, social policy is distinct in its empirical focus on welfare provision but overlaps with other social science fields such as sociology, political science, and public administration. From a narrow standpoint, social policy refers to policies and practices created to address the needs of individuals, i.e., to provide welfare. From a broader standpoint, social policy can be used to motivate individual behavior; is inherently related to the creation of social inequalities across class, gender, race, and sexualities; and is closely tied to capital. Social policy encompasses a wide range of policies, including activation, care, education, families, health care, pensions/aging, poverty/social assistance, and unemployment. Social policy practice refers to the administration of social policies and service delivery. Welfare provision is not limited to government—markets, employers, nongovernmental organizations, churches, and informal networks all play a role in welfare provision, although this varies across countries. The focus, however, particularly in social policy research, is often on government policies and the provision of services. In particular, social policy is often discussed in relation to the welfare state because social policies represent the public or collective management of social risks, an essential function of welfare states. In recent years, social policy research has become increasingly comparative, with a focus on cross-national analyses of systems, policies, and service provision.

Article.  17280 words. 

Subjects: Sociology ; Comparative and Historical Sociology ; Economic Sociology ; Gender and Sexuality ; Health, Illness, and Medicine ; Population and Demography ; Race and Ethnicity ; Social Movements and Social Change ; Social Stratification, Inequality, and Mobility ; Social Theory

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