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Flashcards in Sociology and Social Policy Deck (36)
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Briefly outline what social policy is generally thought of as being.

The plans and actions of governments to tackle 'social problems', especially the welfare of the population in areas such as education and wealth.


How does Worsley define a social problem? Give three examples.

"A social problem is some piece of social behaviour that causes public friction and/or private misery and calls for collective action to solve it."

Ex: poverty, educational underachievement and juvenile delinquency.


According to Worsley, what is a sociological problem?

"Any pattern of relationships that calls for an explanation." In other words, any piece of behaviour we wish to make sense of.


Why might sociologists be interested in topics that are not seen as social problems?

Worsley: From the point of view of the state or the neighbours, quiet families aren't problem families. Sociologically speaking, they are.


Why might some sociologists be interested in solving social problems?

Sociologist who feel strongly about poverty have conducted research aimed at discovering solutions. They can use their research to make a difference.


Briefly outline the following factors that may affect whether or not sociological research influences policy:
- Electoral popularity
- Ideological and policy preferences of governments

- Electoral popularity: research findings and recommendations might point to a policy that would be unpopular with voters.

- Ideological and policy preferences of governments: if the researcher's value stance or perspective is similar to the political ideology of the government, they may stand more change of influencing its policies.


Briefly outline the following factors that may affect whether or not sociological research influences policy:
- Interest groups
- Globalisation
- Critical sociology

- Interest groups: These are pressure groups that seek to influence government policies in their own interests.

- Globalisation: Social policy isn't just made by nation states in isolation. International organisations (e.g IMF) may influence the social policies of individual governments. Example: the IMF's 'structural adjustment programmes' have required less developed countries to introduce fees for education, health care etc as a condition for aid, despite evidence from social scientists that this makes development less likely.

- Critical sociology: sociologists who're critical of the state and powerful groups, such as Marxists, may be regarded as too extreme, hostile or impractical and therefore unlikely to influence policy.


Briefly outline the following factors that may affect whether or not sociological research influences policy:
- Cost
- Funding sources

- Cost: even if the government is sympathetic to the sociologists findings, it may not have the sufficient funds to implement an appropriate policy based on them, or it may have other spending priorities and commitments.

- Funding sources: In some cases, some sociologists may tone down their findings and policy recommendations so as to fit in with their paymasters' wishes. Similarly, policymakers may recruit sociologists who share the same assumptions and political values. The results may be used to justify what the policymakers intended to do originally


Using an example, briefly explain how social scientists may have an impact on mainstream culture.

Bowlby's idea that young children's relationships with their mother are crucial for normal development became widely accepted by many people. This may have influenced policies on day care, young offenders etc.


Who has the power to define a problem and how does this affect policy?

Those with power are the ones who're able to define what is and what is not a problem and what if anything should be done about it.


According to Comte and Durkheim, what was the role of sociology in relation to social problems?



Give an example of a solution to a problem proposed by Durkheim.



According to functionalists, what is the role of social policies and the state in society?



According to functionalists and positivists, what is the sociologists role in relation to the state and social policy?



How does the role of the sociologist compare to that of a medical researcher?



What types of social policy do functionalists favour?



Using an example, explain the Marxist criticism of the functionalist approach to social policy.



According to Townsend, what should the work of sociologists aim to do with regard to social policy?



Briefly explain how the example of the Black Report illustrates the problems of research that conflicts with governmental policy.



Briefly outline the Marxist criticism of the social democratic perspective.



Why do postmodernists criticise sociologists' attempts to influence policy?



Briefly outline the ways in which Marxists see policies serving the interests of capitalism.



According to Marxists, why can social problems not be solved by social policies?



According to Marxists, what should be the sociologists role in relation to social policy?



Briefly outline why the Marxist view has been criticised as impractical and unrealistic.



Using an example, briefly explain how feminists see social policies as perpetuating women's subordination.



Give an example of an area where feminist research has had an impact on social policy. Which branch of feminism is reflected in these policies?



Give an example of a policy that reflects a radical feminists view.



Why do Marxist and radical feminists reject the view that reformist social policies can liberate women?



Briefly outline the New Right of the role of the state.