22 Oktober 2009


Social policy as an academic field of study is one of those curious items, rather like an elephant, which we recognise when we see it but which is notoriously difficult to describe. It is, at one and the same time, the theoritical pursuit of norms about how we think society "ought" to behave, but also the practical application and implementation of those policies that we consider to be "social".
We could, of course, argue that all areas of policyinherently have implication for the well-being of society. Consider for instance, the debate in the years since the falling of the Britain Wall and the Realisation of the so-called "peacedividend" which has employment implication both for the armed forces policy to be within the remit of "social policy".
Social policy is the study of the social services and the welfare state. The field of study has grown over time, and it stretches rather more widely than at might first appear, but the social services are where the subject began, and they are still at the core of what the subject is about. The social services are mainly understood to include social security, housing, health, social work and education - the "Big Five" - along with others which are like social services, including employment, prions, legal services or drains (Spicker, 1995)
The term social policy is not only used to refer to an academic discipline and its study, however, it is also used to refer to social action in the real world. Social policy is the term used to describe action aimed at promoting well being; it is also the term used to denote the academic study of such action (Alcock, 1997)

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