Social Policy meaning,characteristics,and objectives


Social Policy-

  • An attempt to define social policy is beset with many practical difficulties. Is there one social policy with capital S and P or are there multiple social policies with small s and small p?
  • This question is relevant because we have social policies compartmentalized into a policy for scheduled castes, a policy for backward classes, a policy for weaker sections, a policy for women, a policy for children and so on. Does an addition of these policies make up a “whole” social policy?
  • We have Directive Principles of State Policy, the Fundamental Rights and the preamble to the constitution. Do these make up a social policy? In the light of the above dilemmas, in the following section, we attempt to define social policy
  • social policy can be referred to both in the plural and singular case.. When referred to in theplural, it denotes the comprehensive and integrated set of policies in the social sectors such as health, social welfare, education, social security, etc., when used in singular the term social policy refers to a specific governmental policy such as the policy towards the SCs and STs, the policy for providing universal education etc
  • According to Kulkarni “Social policy is the strategy of action indicating means and methods to be followed in successive phases to achieve the declared social objectives.”
  •  It is frequently stated that social policies aim to bring about social change. In the final analysis, all social policies are government policies as stated by Marshall and Boulding.
  •  As part of the operation of the government, social policy cannot hope to introduce fundamental changes in society, which would mean undermining the status quo on which government rests. Whether in the socialist countries or in the capitalist countries, the social policy cannot usher in the fundamental structural change.
  •  Pinker has argued that objective of social policy is minimization of sufferings and maximization of welfare.
  •  Another objective of social policy is improvement of quality of life of people. It is necessary to ask whose quality of life that we want to improve? This is a pertinent question in developing countries like India where majority of the population live in conditions of serious deprivation, without being able to get even the basic necessities for survival. They are said to be living in absolute poverty or below the poverty line. According to World Bank the estimates of poor population in the developing countries is 57%. It should be very clear that the limited resources of the developing countries cannot be utilized to improve the quality of life of all the population of these countries
  •   It has been very well documented by several studies that the major beneficiaries of development planning in the Third World have been the numerically small fraction of the population. So the aim of social policy should be to redistribute social resources so that the quality of life of the top 20% of the population does not keep on improving at the cost of the provision of the basic necessities for the very survival of the 50 or 60% of the population
  • It is for this reason that Mahboob-ul-Haq has stated that the aim of development planning in Third World should be stated as the preservation of the very life itself and not as the improvement of the qual it of life, which presumes that the basic survival needs have been met.

Characteristics

1.      Many writers on social policy including such well-known names like Titmuss, Donnison and Boulding have stressed that the distinguishing trait of social policy is its distributional or redistributive character.

2.      Thus the concern of ocial policy is with social and economic justice based on the principle of equality, which means that the redistribution of social resources should take place from the better off sections towards the worse off sections of society.

3.      The second characteristic of social policy is its concern with weaker and vulnerable sections of society such as poor, women, children, disabled, backward classes so as to bring them at par with the rest of society. Thus social policies visualize of an egalitarian society where inequalities are reduced to minimum level.

4.      Another characteristic of social policy is that social policies do not exist in isolation. These are determined to a large extent by the socio-political scenario of a nation, its economic viability and last but not the least, by sociocultural ethos of people of the nation. Now after Liberalisation, Globalisation and Privatization, policies have become global and changes in one corner of the world definitely leave impact over rest of the world.

5.      Most live example of this feature is the opening up of economy by most of third world countries in accordance with guidelines of World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

OBJECTIVE OF SOCIAL POLICIES

1.      It is frequently stated that social policies aim to bring about social change. In the final analysis all social policies are government policies as stated by Marshall and Boulding.

2.      As part of the operation of the government, social policy cannot hope to introduce fundamental changes in society, which would mean undermining the status quo on which government rests. Whether in the socialist countries or in the capitalist countries, the social policy cannot usher in the fundamental structural change.

3.       Pinker has argued that objective of social policy is minimization of sufferings and maximization of welfare.

4.      Another objective of social policy is improvement of quality of life of people. It is necessary to ask whose quality of life that we want to improve? This is a pertinent question in developing countries like India where majority of the population live in conditions of serious deprivation, without being able to get even the basic necessities for survival.

5.      They are said to be living in absolute poverty or below the poverty line. According to World Bank the estimates of poor population in the developing countries is 57%. It should be very clear that the limited resources of the developing countries cannot be utilized to improve the quality of life of all the population of these countries

6.      It has been very well documented by several studies that the major beneficiaries of development planning in the Third World have been the numerically small fraction of the population. So the aim of social policy should be to redistribute social resources so that the quality of life of the top 20% of the population does not keep on improving at the cost of the provision of the basic necessities for the very survival of the 50 or 60% of the population.

7.      It is for this reason that Mahboob-ul-Haq has stated that the aim of development planning in Third World should be stated as the preservation of the very life itself and not as the improvement of the qual it of life, which presumes that the basic survival needs have been met.

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