In simple terms, ‘social policy’ can be referred to as the legalization of civilization. The ways and means which we construct around ourselves from time to time, stating whatever the norm is and what is otherwise. Social Policy talks of a genre of laws and customs, that have officially been ratified by the society and the state, and have this become a ‘legalized fashion’.
First, appreciating the essence of social policy is important. It basically establishes parameters around the things we do in the world. This can be at the state level, at well at the societal level. However, the more integral thing to understand here is that whereas social policy itself is ratified by the governing authority, yet it stems from within the values of the society itself. Thus it takes the form of a cycle, in which all entities become inter-dependent. Taking an imaginary starting point in this circle, the factors start to become prominent within a social group. These are then highlighted at the appropriate levels, and take a more potent form. Religious beliefs, superstitions, moral values, customs of service, all contribute to the same.
When people at appropriate levels begin to establish the true societal norms of a community, then half the job is done. But the other half remains a much more crucial and even controversial entity. If the established norms would have stayed the same all these centuries, then the world would not be witnessing so much disparity in today’s date. The fact of the matter remains that there has been constant change in the paradigm of social policy for various cultures. But the establishment of this change has not been easy.
Sometimes, it has just taken the normal course of the ‘time factor’ wherein things gradually mould into the new shape. However, there remains a more abrupt and definitive means of change, which has met its opposition all this while. The reason is simple; as norms are largely based on people’s beliefs, therefore so is social policy, if anybody attempts to make any change in the same, then their action would be met with opposition.
This is more so true in today’s age. Wherein the global village now exists beyond a metaphor. A person sitting in any part of the world can find about the customs and tradition of the other at an equally diverse area. The human mind is susceptible to any new stimulus. Therefore, now people begin to look for common grounds as human beings, something that was only a dream only a couple of decades ago.
Technology has brought new life into the concept of social policy. Now terms like abortion and euthanasia may still be taboo in a place, but there would be people who will lend an ear if a movement regarding the same would be in process. This is a direct stance against the conventional system of policy based on values.
Understanding, studying, analyzing and most importantly applying social policy is therefore imperative for the growth and evolution of any society. When one studies social policy, the basic premise of the subject is unfolded therein. What follows is the opportunity for the thinking mind to be able to understand as to where is the weak link within a social group that can be targeted., this can both be ion the shape of a human being, or and object/ event. There is nothing malicious or wicked in this; it just represents a fragile area of work wherein a specialist gets some information about a necessary change that needs to be inculcated into the society, which can only be possible with the help of appropriate intervention within a society.
Today, as dynamic as the society is, the biggest challenge is the sub-groups, biases and the preconceived notions that people are forming today against each other. This is especially true against minority group and those standing up for specific and controversial issues. This is where the study of social policy shall play a crucial role. What would happen is, that the scientific study of social processes within that area would give an idea about the common terms that exist within the sub-groups of a society; this would help in bringing them closer together on the same frequency. Once a rapport has been established, than proposing any means of change shall become feasible.
Change itself is inevitable – it has to happen. The social policies basically regularize, synthesize and stream-line the process so that no body gets hurt in any manner. Randomly administering the same element of change in the tribe of Masai Mara in Central Africa and Manhattan in New York would obviously yield diverse results. This further elucidates the fact that appreciation and study of specific circumstances of a place vis-à-vis its people is very important.
Once social change is thoroughly studied, it automatically means that the measure of change has also been studied. It will thus come to light, as in what factor(s) are responsible for a particular series of events. On the contrary, if change is administered randomly and without adequate investigation, then the results can be disastrous. Events can backfire, and the entire issue can blow up to limitless proportions.
The colonization that happened in the previous century is a very good example. All the European powers who administered their might over the rest of the world initially went in as economic traders. They stayed in that country for sometime, and tried to understand their emotional climate. Subsequently, they put actions to their thoughts, and militarized their expeditions. The impact of their stay on the now independent colonies is still visible. The places, which had the same culture and customs for centuries, now were changed immensely due to their new leaders.
In all, understanding and administration of change at the societal level is the essence of social policy. It enables one to do in real time, what anthropology attempts at ages later. Though it goes down a personal level, it also is very much a political tool, as legalization and formation of parameters becomes the domain of the governing body. Hence, it also accords the opportunity to an effective leader to reach out to his people, so that their concerns are properly dealt with. One credible difference between the developed world and the developing world is the appropriate infrastructure and administration of social policy.
With a successful amalgamation of sociology, psychology, religion, politics and legislation, social policy stands out as one discipline that innocently but potently, analyses the issues in any given society, and then administers its checks and balances, so that the forces within that dynamic system stay in equilibrium. It is a great stabilizer, which shuns down any unwanted element within the system, and nurtures the wanted and needed norms of the masses. It is simply an invisible system, which maintains a lot of good, and restricts a lot of iniquity without making much hue and cry.