Social Policy

Many people often feel that they have only a vague idea about what Social Policy is. Yet we all know something about the subject because it is an important part of all of our lives. The founders of the welfare state referred to services which would look after us 'From the cradle to the grave'. Health care, education, help in finding jobs, income maintenance in times of need, housing, pensions, social care and the maintenance of law and order are all examples of social policy. The extent to which we are affected by social policy depends upon individual circumstances but it is clear that it is an important part of all of our lives.

The last twenty-five years have seen enormous changes in social policy and social welfare. Under the Conservative governments there was an attempt to 'roll back the frontiers of the welfare state' and wide-ranging changes to welfare provision. The Labour governments have been seeking to reform the welfare system into one which is better suited to the demands of the 21st century. Major questions are about how welfare services should be paid for (for example, through taxation, social insurance or fees) and who should provide them (the public, private or voluntary sectors).

These and others, such as the impact and implications of developments such as globalisation and the ageing population, are key questions for society and are amongst the topics that you will study at Lincoln. In addition, our involvement in Europe raises further issues about the range and quality of welfare services provided and by who, whilst newer topics ranging from food safety to asylum seekers also impinge on the social policy agenda.

There are even deeper and harder questions to be asked: how much are decisions about social policy dependent upon economic policy and the performance of the economy, and how much control do national governments now have over these policy areas. At the same time, it is important not to neglect study at the micro-level, for example recognising the amount of voluntary and informal care that takes place in society and the need for support amongst carers, or examining the realities of poverty for families.

Social Policy at Lincoln seeks to draw you in to these debates and to develop an understanding of the influences upon social policy and the provision of welfare in the twenty-first century by looking at social policy from a variety of perspectives. As a subject that draws upon others, including history, sociology, politics and economics, the study of Social Policy provides a strong grounding in ideas arguments as knowledge, as well as enabling you to develop many of the 'soft' skills valued by employers in today's labour market.

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School of Social and Political Sciences, College of Social Science, University of Lincoln, Brayford Pool, Lincoln. LN6 7TS
tel: + 44 (0)1522 882000