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Flashcards in Social Policy Deck (19):

What is the difference between social problems and sociological problems?

Social problems = some piece of social behaviour that causes public friction and/or private misery and calls for collective action to solve it, e.g. poverty or divorce

Sociological problems = any pattern of relationships that calls for explanation, e.g. why do people remain happily married?


What 7 factors influence social policy?

1) Electoral popularity
2) Ideological and policy preferences of governments
3) Interest groups
4) Globalisation
5) Critical sociology
6) Cost
7) Funding sources


Explain the influence of electoral popularity on social policy

Policies should be popular with voters, if not they are less likely to be put into place


Explain the influence of the ideological preferences of governments on socila policy

If the researcher's values are similar to that of the government's, they may stand more chance of influencing its policies


Explain the influence of interest groups on social policy

Pressure groups may seek to influence government policies in their own inetrests, e.g. businesses may wish to prevent the rising of the minimum wage


Explain the influence of globalisation on social policy

International organisations may influence socila policies of individual governments, e.g. the European Union


Explain the influence of critical sociology on social policy

If the sociological perspective is seen as too radical, e.g. Marxism, then it may be unlikely to influence social policy


Explain the influence of cost on social policy

Even if the government is sympathetic to the sociologist's findings, it may not have the funds to put the policy into place


Explain the influence of funding cources on social policy

In some cases, sociologists may have to tone down their findings in order to fit in with their paymasters' wishes


What are the 5 different perspectives on social policy?

1) Positivism and functionalism
2) Social democratic perspective
3) Marxism
4) Feminism
5) The New Right


What is the funtionalist and positivist perspective on social policy?

- Positivists took the view that science would discover the cause and solutions of social problems
- Functionalists see the state at implementing rational social policies for the good of all, e.g. educational policies are seen as promoting equal opportunity and social integration
- For both functionalists and positivists, the sociologist's role is to provide the state with objective, scientific information
- Functionalists favour a catious approach to social policy, tackling one specific issue at a time


How has the functionalist's catious approach to social policy been criticised?

Marxists argue that educational policies aimed at equalising opportunities for children of different classes are defeated by the influence of poverty in wider society. Therefore, we need to change the basic structure of society in order to solve these problems


Explain the social democratic perspective on social policy

- Favours major redistribution of wealth and income from the rich to the poor
- Sociologists that support this view argue that they should be involved in researching social problems and coming up with solutions to them
- Their suggestions of social policies are free school meals for all children, better benefits for the disabled and more spending to improve housing


How has the social democratic view on social policy been criticised?

- Marxists reject that their policies are far-reaching enough to solve the problem of class enequalities, and instead capitalism needs to be abolished, since it is responsible for the problems
- Postmodernists criticise attempts by sociologists to influence soical policy. For postmodernists, it is impossible to discover objective truth, so sociological findings cannot provide a satisfactory basis for policy-making


Explain the Marxist perspective on social policy

- They do not see the state and its policies as benefitting all memebrs of society, only the ruling class
- Social policies provide ideological legitimation, the maintain the labour force for further exploitation and they are a means of preventing revolution
- Research that reveals the unpleasant nature of capitalism will not be used to solve social problems
- The main role of the socilogist is to criticise capitalist social policy


How has the Marxist perspective on social policy been criticised?

- Has been criticised as unrealistic and impractical
- Social democrats criticise them for rejecting the idea that sociological research can help bring about progressie policies within the existing capitalist system


Explain the feminist perspective on social policy

- The state perpetuates women's subordination through its social policies
- E.g if the state assumes that the conventional family is the nuclear family, therefore family policies may offer benefits to maried couples and not to cohabiting couple, this makes it difficult for women to live in any other kind of family
- Feminist research has had an impact on social policy, e.g. has influenced learning materials and teacher training


Explain the New Right perspective on social policy

- Believe the state should have minimal involvement in society
- State intervention undermines social responsibility, which in turn leads to greater social problems
- E.g. Murray argues that generous welfare benefits encourages a dependancy culture
- The New Right are highly critical of many existing social policies
- They see the role of the sociologist as to introduce social policies different to the current ones
These policies should aim to restore individuals' responsibility


How has the New Right perspective on social policy been criticised?

- The quality and objectivity of the social research used by the New Right has been criticised. E.g. the validity of the data on which Murray bases his claims on has been questionned