Sociological Perspectives applied to Social Policy

Social policy refers to the actions governments take in order to influence society, or to the actions opposition parties and ‘social movements’ (Marxism and Feminism) propose to do if they were to gain power.

The barriers to certain social policies getting implemented

  • Electoral popularity

  • Ideological preferences of governments

  • Globalisation

  • Cost/ Funding

Positivism applied to social policy

  • Sociologists should work with governments to uncover objective ‘causes’ of social problems such as crime/ suicide etc.

  • Examples: Durkheim’s study of Suicide

  • Evaluation: Consverative theory which supports the status quo

Social Democratic Perspectives applied to social policies

  • Agree with the above, and generally favour wealth redistribution

  • Peter Townsend’s work on Poverty leading to better welfare provision

  • Evaluation: Welfare breeds dependency

Neoliberal and New Right Perspectives applied to social policies

  • Believe the government should interfere less in social life

  • Believe in policies to encourage competition and are anti-welfare

  • Examples of policies supported: 1988 Education Act, Benefit cuts, Right Realism crime control.

  • Evaluation: all of the above perpetuate inequalities

Marxist perspectives applied to social policy

  • Policies tend to benefit elites by maintaining wealth inequalities and providing ideological control

  • Examples of Policies criticised: Private schools, 1988 education act, selective law enforcement

  • Evaluation: Many social democratic policies seem to benefitted the working classes

Feminist Perspectives applied to social policy

  • Lib Fem – working with governments to legislate for more equal opps

  • Examples of policies supported – equal pay acts, divorce act, maternity and paternity acts.

  • Radical Feminism argues more needs to be done to tackle Pornification and DV Post and Late modernism applied to global social policy – support all of the above, but more needs to be done.

  • Evaluation: enforcing radical feminist ideas means more interference in private lives

Postmodern Perspectives on social policy

  • Postmodernists generally not interested in social policy (but should be pro-diversity)

  • Examples of policies supported: 2010 Equality Act (possibly)

  • Evaluation: Bit of a cop-out!

Late Modern Perspectives on social policy

  • Late Modernists believe social policies need to adapt constantly to globalisation

  • Examples of policies responding to globalisation: New Labour and New Right education policies, numerous crime control policies.

  • Evaluation: Tend to assume policies are neutral responses to globalisation

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