Sociology and Social Policy

Sociology and Social Policy

Assess the relationship between sociology and social policy Sociology is the study of the development, organization, functioning and classification of society while social policy is a policy designed to tackle social issues. Overall, sociology and social policy have a mixed relationship because this relationship depends on which perspectives are involved but in many cases, this is a two way relationship. Conflict theories such as Marxism and Feminism argue that social policy benefits the oppressors.

However, functionalists believe that it benefits the whole of society while the New Right argue that social policies often discourage self-help. Functionalists such as Druthers argue that sociology is a science therefore; it should find the causes of social problems while social policies produce solutions to such problems based on scientific, Objective research provided by sociologists. Therefore, functionalists believe that there is a close relationship between sociology and social policy.

Druthers proposed that a meritocracy education system should be established and that inherited wealth should be abolished in order to create a fair society based on a social consensus. Functionalists advocate a cautious, piecemeal reform to prevent a rapid change in society which would result in the breakdown of social order hence such reform is more beneficial for everyone. Marxist criticism this by arguing that meritocracy education reforms are defeated by the influence of wider social factors such as class which maintain social inequality therefore, it is a myth that social policy benefits everyone.

Marxist believe that social policies exist to benefit the bourgeoisie who exploit the proletariat. Social policies provide ideological legislation of the Capitalist system by masking its failures through institutions such as the INS which appear to care for the proletariat but in reality, they exist to maintain an exploitable workforce for the Capitalists and to show that Capitalism has a ‘caring face’ in order to prevent revolution. This suggests that there is a very weak relationship between Marxist sociology and social policy which they see as pro Capitalist.

Therefore, they advocate the overthrow of the Capitalist system in a violent revolution ND would replace it with a classless, socialist society where social problems would cease to exist hence there would be no need for social policies. Feminists criticism this by stating that Marxism is largely patriarchal hence it ignores the plight of women. Feminists believe that social policy is created by patriarchal governments which meet the needs of men at the expense of women.

An example of a social policy created by such governments is tax breaks given to married couples making it more difficult for women to live outside of the male dominated nuclear family. Radical feminists argue that all en oppress all women hence any society where men and women co-exist is fundamentally oppressive for women. Therefore, they believe that women and men should live in separate communities to eliminate patriarchy and that women should pursue political lesbianism where women go into lesbian relationships because they are the only non-oppressive relationships.

This suggests that radical feminist sociology doesn’t have a close relationship with conventional social policy. However, liberal feminists believe in less radical reforms in order to achieve gender equality such as granting women equal sights and equality of opportunity to men. Such feminists have successfully influenced a range of social policies such as the Sex Discrimination Act 1975. In conclusion, feminists have a largely mixed relationship with social policy.

Critics such as the New Right reject the use of feminist policies The New Right argues that the state should have a minimal role in society in particular over the provision of welfare as a means of solving social problems. Murray argues that there is a growing underclass of single mothers, neglectful fathers and undisciplined children as a result of increased welfare payments by the state because the growth of the underclass is created by welfare dependency.

However, the New Right believes that social policies that encourage a culture of individualism and help maintain traditional nuclear families are highly beneficial to society such as tax breaks for married couples. They also advocate the implementation of welfare cuts alongside New Right social policies. Therefore, there is a mixed relationship between New Right sociology and social policy. However, feminists believe that the New Right’s policies for he nuclear family maintain patriarchal control.

Overall, sociology has a highly mixed relationship with social policy because it depends on the government in power at the time and the ideology of those carrying out sociological research over whether sociology has a close relationship with social policy or not. The New Right is very opposed to social policies that undermine personal responsibility while Marxist oppose it for maintaining Capitalism. However, liberal feminists support social policies that support women while rejecting more traditionalist social policies.

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