Professor David Lewis
Head of Department
The interests of staff in the Department of Social Policy at the LSE embrace virtually all major issues which confront individual countries and the world today.
The issues we cover include health, social services, education, social security, housing, crime and criminal justice, youth policy and problems posed by poverty, social exclusion and globalisation.
The role of national and local government and non-governmental organisations in instigating policy change and funding reform is a key issue. Our staff are from many different academic backgrounds - including economics, sociology, psychology, demography, geography, history and philosophy. They are continually involved in policy debate and in advising local, national and international organisations - governmental and non-governmental. Their research is frequently referred to in both the national and international media.
Our former students fill senior policy-related and academic positions in countries around the world.
What is social policy?
Social Policy is an interdisciplinary and applied subject concerned with the analysis of societies' responses to social need. It seeks to foster in its students a capacity to understand theory and evidence drawn from a wide range of social science disciplines, including economics, sociology, psychology, geography, history, law, philosophy and political science.
Social Policy is focused on those aspects of the economy, society and polity that are necessary to human existence and the means by which they can be provided. These basic human needs include: food and shelter, a sustainable and safe environment, the promotion of health and treatment of the sick, the care and support of those unable to live a fully independent life; and the education and training of individuals to a level that enables them fully to participate in their society.
The study of Social Policy is designed to reflect on the ways in which different societies have developed ways of meeting these needs, or have failed to do so. Some societies rely on informal or family institutions, some on private markets and individual actions, some on governmental actions through what is often termed the welfare state. Students of Social Policy will be expected to understand these different approaches and explore their implications from the perspective of different disciplinary and ideological traditions.