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Social Policy Degree - Essay Example

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Social Policy Degree

According to Tony Fitzpatrick (2001, p. 89), "the emphasis in policymaking is now on minimizing risks rather than maximising social justice." This shift in policy focus can be assessed as a shift in the dominant regime prevalent among policymakers (Esping-Anderson, 1990), shaped by the political and cultural processes of dominant social groups and ideologies. One can view these developments as fuelled by factors such as the political consensus prevalent after World War II, which established the need for social democracy and its universal ethic of universalism that created the welfare state (Pierson, 1998). Thus, the growth of welfare states is the result of the growing impact of ideas regarding social justice in forming the dominant regime of liberal democracy. Furthermore, the focus on minimising risks can therefore be viewed as a shift in the dominance of a liberal welfare regime towards a more corporatist welfare regime, where ideas of "communitarian social market economics" views the welfare regime as "a facilitator of group based mutual aid and risk pooling" as opposed to having a welfare role (Goodin, et al., p. 39).
The welfare state, however, is in a state of crisis, such tha...
Hence, encouraging welfare states to be more adept to minimise risks and maximise returns of policies. The New Labour's 'Third Way' modernization project, in turn can be considered as a response to the factors that threaten solidarity by constructing a new 'social democracy,' which according to Fitzpatrick (2002) is but a simplification of the old concept of social democracy.
Thus, the introduction of a neo-liberal capitalism ideologies, as well as globalization, questions the commitment of social policies towards welfare and social justice, in the context of risk management. Two policy areas that illustrates such is with regard to community care, evidenced by the recently passed Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003; and child welfare in the context of the Mental Health Bill 2004. First, the Anti-Social Behaviour Act, has been described as more concerned with giving authorities more administrative and enforcement powers to punish offenders, without due reference to rehabilitating them, especially with regard to youth offenders (Liberty, 2003; National Children's Bureau, 2003). The case with regard to the Mental Health Bill is similar, such that it has been criticised of not providing children with mental health disorders proper safety nets by properly distinguishing them from adults, which makes them vulnerable to human rights violation, in favour of governmental effort to reduce expenditures in hospital beds and medical equipment (Draft Mental Health Bill, 2004).
Thus, as illustrated by the regimes theory, the shift of dominant ideas prevalent among policymakers towards the need to be more competitive in the social policy area, has forced social policies that are more inclined to risk ...Show more


Social policy, defined in its narrow sense is "the study of social needs and functioning, in conditions of scarcity, human organisation to meet those needs" (Titmuss, 1976, p. 20). In this respect, the determination of social needs, and the manner of functioning, depends largely on the factors that affect policy-making, deciding on the proper redistribution of these scare resources to meet societal needs…
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