Social Policy

Hartley Dean|
Polity (December 2005)

How do human societies provide for the wellbeing of their members? How far can we organise the ways in which we care for and about each other? And who should take responsibility for providing the support we all need? These are some of the fundamental questions addressed by social policy today.

In this short introduction, suitable for students at any level, Hartley Dean explains the extraordinary scope and importance of social policy. He explores its foundations and contemporary significance; the principal issues it addresses and their diverse economic, political and sociological dimensions, and concludes by looking at the fundamental challenges facing social policy in a dramatically changing world.

Taking an innovative approach to social policy as the study of human wellbeing, Hartley Dean examines the ways in which governments and peoples throughout the world attend to, promote, neglect or even undermine the things that make life worth living. These include essential services, such as healthcare and education; the means of livelihood, such as jobs and money; and vital but sometimes intangible things, such as physical and emotional security. Some of these are organised by governments and official bodies. Others are provided by businesses, social groups, community organisations, neighbours and families. Trying to understand all these elements, which together constitute human wellbeing, is the stuff of social policy. 

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