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Assess the relationship between sociology and social policy

Methods in Context

Adam Levitt

on 17 May 2014

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Transcript of Assess the relationship between sociology and social policy

Assess the relationship between sociology and social policy

(33 Marks)

Marxist Perspective
Marxists see the government as serving the interest of the ruling class
They argue that social policies serve the interest of capitalism not society as a whole.
They argue that sociological research will only influence social policy if it serves the interests of capitalism - NHS keeps workers healthy
However they argue that the government has the power to bury research that goes against their own ideology - the black report.
And Sociologists should be exposing the way government use social policy to mask capitalist oppression of the working class.
Positivist & Functionalist perspective
Sociology is a science so can discover solutions to social problems
They look at social problems that affect the whole of society, education, health and housing
They believe the government serves the interest of society as a whole so will produce social policies for the good of all based on their research
Functionalist tend to look at one issue at a time - piecemeal - Marxist criticise this by pointing the need to tackle inequalities in society as a whole before you tackle the working class
Feminist Perspective
See society as patriarchal & much of government policy reinforces women's subordination
They see sociology influencing social policy that brings about women's equality
Liberal feminists have been successful in influencing government policy - Sex Discrimination Act, Equal Pay Act, changes in education etc.
New Right Perspective
Don't believe in state involvement in society
They regard the welfare state as causing a dependency culture
They want sociology to help develop policies that restore individuals responsibility
They are criticised for using 'evidence' fro right wing 'think tanks' rather than sociological research
Social Democratic Perspective
Society is based on inequality and conflict
They believe that sociological research helps make recommendations to the government for more spending on the welfare state
Governments have the power to ignore recommendations - governments change & policy's get abandoned
Electoral popularity & government ideology
Different factors that affect influential sociological research can have on social policy
Governments are at the mercy of the electorate
Any policy they introduce will be judged by the electorate & if not popular then they could loose power
Governments are also not going to accept findings that go against their ideology - black report
Research results can be manipulated to help them be accepted by the government or public
Pressure groups & globalisation
The size and power of an interest group will affect how influential it will be
Large international companies will have more influence over government decisions
Powerful organisations can pay for research & use this effectively where as small pressure groups like the woman's liberation movement have to campaign for years before they have any effect if at all
Jamie Oliver used the vehicle of TV & his own celebrity status to change policing on school dinners
Cost & Funding Sources
Money affects the likelihood of findings being introduced
Sociological research can produce possible solutions to sociological problems that the government agrees with but they may not have the money to implement the recommendations - Priorities
It costs to do research so sociologists need funding, governments often find research in order to justify their policy
The results of such research may be influenced by this & findings may be toned down so they fit with the governments wishes.
Sociologists often research social problems like poverty, divorce and juvenile delinquency. Some of these studies have been very influential in society & have been taken on board by governments and resulted in policy. Whether the study affects social policy depends on many factors to show the relationship between sociology and social policy.
Sociological research can and has influenced government policy. However there are many factors that affect how influential their findings will be. Social policy should be based on sound reasoning gained from evidence produced through research. However the results of research can be manipulated for a number of reasons and can be motivated by personal interest so if the results are in vogue at the time they will be accepted if not they will be ignored.
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