The focus of this assignment will be Social policy, my hypothesis for this assignment is to explore and understand “To what extent is Social policy fair? ” with reference to race/ethnicity, from this title many questions arise, for example is the welfare state racist? Is there an increase or decrease in multicultural services? Is there a need for a stronger political voice to ethnic minority communities?
These questions need to be answered to come to a conclusion, however to understand this topic more clearly, I need to gain a better understanding of what social policy is, public policy is a part of social policy, however social policy deals with social issues. In Europe policies affecting the social conditions under which people are referred to as social policies. Important areas of social policy that are focused on in Europe are education, labour regulation, unemployment insurance, accident insurance and health insurance, throughout the course of this essay I hope to understand what social policy has done, and what its results are.
I intend to come to a conclusion on this topic by answering as many of the questions at the beginning of my introduction as I can, I will also carefully study and analyse by gathering research from related books, articles and journals, I will also be looking at Social divisions, patterns of inequality and different sociological perspectives, for example I will be focusing on ideologies and perspectives of feminism, middle way, and anti-racism etc.
A key point to understand when looking at Social policy, is what social policy actually is, here’s a brief explanation “Social policy is the study of human well-being. ” Dean, H. (2006) Social Policy, Cambridge, Polity p. 1 From this quote we learn that social policy is focused on the concept of human needs, these needs are satisfied through the structure of social policy. The guidelines for social policy are focused on changing maintenance or the creation of living conditions that are conducive to human welfare.
Having gained a little bit of a better understanding into social policy, I then went on to gather some further research on social policy with reference to race/ethnicity related issues, Many argue that ethnic minorities are not considered in social policy and are left in poverty, as policies are increasingly benefiting the white middle class population, however poverty is regarded as undesirable creating a stigmatised status, and those occupying this status are considered inferior and unequal, perspectives such as the New Right reflect this e.
Murray sees young black males as prone to criminality, Murray argues that they are labelled at school and throughout their lives, there isnt any form of social policy to prevent this, Lewis’ culture of poverty thesis agrees with the New Right on this matter, as it suggests that the ethnic minority poor are both conformists, conforming to their own subcultural values, and deviants, deviating from the culture of wider society, and this all comes down to the matter that ethnic minorities are possibly not given equal opportunities and thus social policy can be proved to be unfair.
Further research that I found on social policy with reference to race/ethnicity related issues, showed that “Public expenditure on the social services for ethnic minorities has not achieved equality in any of its interpretations. Public expenditure on healthcare, education, housing and transport systematically favours the better off, and thereby contributes to inequality in final income. ” The strategy of equality, redistribution and the social services, 1982, Julian Le Grand, p. 137
This quote suggests that social policy is not making any progression for ethnic minority communities, and so strikes up an argument that social policy is not very fair with relation to race/ethnicity. Functionalists disagree with the New Right, as functionalists see the ethnic minority poor as those who have failed to conform by not achieving in terms of societys meritocratic value system, and so functionalists believe this is to blame on the individual members of ethnic minorities and not to blame on social policy.
Evidence that I came across that supports the view that social policy is not fair in relation to race and ethnicity was “Institutions built on white british, judaeo-christian values and a racist ideology may well discriminate against individuals and groups of ethnic minority backgrounds through the application of routine procedures (residence requirements, ability to speak English,etc). ” The students companion to social policy, 2nd Edition, published 2003, Edited by Pete Alcock, Angus Erskine and Margaret May, p. 14 From this quote, it can be established that social policy obviously isn’t very fair, in reference to the question posed in my introduction, I would say that this evidence suggests that there obviously is a need for a stronger political voice to ethnic minority groups and there is a need for policies to be put into place that challenge and change structures and procedures, social policies need to be put into place,that will combat and tackle institutional racism and not just individual prejudice.
Anti racist strategies and policies are being focused on by Bulmer and Solomos, 1999(The students companion to social policy, 2nd Edition, published 2003, Edited by Pete Alcock, Angus Erskine and Margaret May, p. 114) Some people argue that social policy is not fair to ethnic minorities, as they believe that the welfare state may be racist. “Racism in state welfare has a long history. For example, Queen Elizabeth 1 ordered compulsory repatriation of black people from Britain so that state welfare would be accessed only by white citizens.
The students companion to social policy, 2nd Edition, published 2003, Edited by Pete Alcock, Angus Erskine and Margaret May, p. 113 The above quote, backs up the argument that social policy isn’t very fair, as ethnic minorities may face racism and so may not be treated equally, and so social policy may just be aimed at benefiting “white citizens”. Williams 1996 (The students companion to social policy, 2nd Edition, published 2003, Edited by Pete Alcock, Angus Erskine and Margaret May, p. 13) argued that there were three important historical moments in the relationship between racism and social policy and these were, the post war period of black immigration, which was encouraged by the state to meet labour shortages, where the emergence of social policy was based on fears of the degeneration of the “british race” and the loss of the empire. The second historical moment was the significance of the Eugenics movement, Williams argues that “Discourses involved in this (eugenics) movement were racialized, and overlapped with notions of class,gender, disability and sexuality”
Williams 1996 (The students companion to social policy, 2nd Edition, published 2003, Edited by Pete Alcock, Angus Erskine and Margaret May, p. 113 The argument put forward by Williams above links into the third historical movement in regards to social policy and racism, which was the importance of the construction of notions of the nation, social policy and citizenship, which was categorised by increasing exclusion of certain categories of people, this evidence therefore also supports the idea that Social Policy is not fair with reference to race and ethnicity.
The New Right sees social policy as the main cause for ethnic minorities being the deviant underclass, the New Right believe social policy should have moral objectives, to help secure conformity to respectable values such as the conventional family and self reliance. Marxists see social policy a being a form of social control over the ethnic minority working class, pushing the unemployed into accepting low paid jobs, where as black feminists see social policy as a form of social control over women.
As I progressed with my course of research, I came across ideas and research that clashes with the concept of social policy not being fair in relation to race and ethnicity, the research that I found supports a contrasting viewpoint that Social policy is actually fair with regard to my chosen topic, the reading that I did was from some of the following journals…Journal of Social policy, London: Cambridge University press, Social policy and administration, Oxford-Basil Blackwell, And Critical social policy, London: Sage.
These journals along with other sources created a big contrast with what my previous research was indicating, and so I had to carefully analyse this side of the argument to decide which argument was stronger, and which one I agree with. Specific evidence that I came across that disagrees with my earlier arguments, and suggests, that Social policy in regards to race/ethnicity is fair, is that my research showed that governments do try to create social policies that will be beneficial to all (including ethnic minorities) Punitive immigration control has been justified by both conservative and labour governments in terms of not just its importance to the state, but of it being in the interest of minority ethnic communities themselves. ” The students companion to social policy, 2nd Edition, published 2003, Edited by Pete Alcock, Angus Erskine and Margaret May, p. 115
The evidence above shows that governments do take into account ethnic minorities when making decisions, and also there’s further evidence that supports the idea that social policy is not racist in regards to race and ethnicity as modern day social policy promotes equality between all, modern day social policy reflects this, as it focuses on abortion and the regulation of its practice, poverty, welfare and homelessness ,the rules surrounding issues of marriage, divorce and adoption, the legal status of euthanasia, the legal status of prostitution and the legal status of recreational drugs.
Further evidence that supports the view that social policy is fair, is the Joseph Rowntree foundation, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation is an organisation that has been put into place , to put together and fund programmes of research and disseminate the findings to influence social policy and practice. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation caters for everyone irrespective of race or ethnicity, it focuses on the areas of social policy in need of reform (all the places mentioned in the above paragraph).
I therefore come to a conclusion on my hypothesis exploring “To what extent is Social policy fair? with reference to race/ethnicity, after analysing and carefully scrutinising many different viewpoints and perspectives, and looking at lots of race/ethnicity related issues its hard to come to a single answer, as I believe that Social policy is fair in some ways and unfair in other ways with regards to race and ethnicity, I believe Social Policy is fair with reference to race and ethnicity, due to all the points made towards the end of my essay, the evidence from the research I did clarified that ethnic minorities are taken into consideration by the hedgemony(government) when social policies are being created……….
In relation to the questions that I proposed in my introduction I would have to answer……… In relation to the perspectives, theories and ideologies I looked at I would have to say……. There were many debatable answers to my question “To what extent is Social policy fair? with reference to race/ethnicity, but it would definitely have to be said that Social policy is fair in many ways, yet from certain perspectives and viewpoints, asides from the ones I have mentioned, many people would disagree, I have explored many different race/ethnicity related factors and considered many different sociological opinions, but different people have different viewpoints on the matter, So I believe this topic is still debatable.