There is constant pressure to 're-invent the wheel' - that is, to devise procedures and tackle problems which others have also had to work through. The starting point for tackling any problem is finding out what has already been done about it.
As a general rule, this means that people working in this field have to cover a lot of ground. Lawyers can often rely on one good, solid, authoritative textbook, which will point them directly to a relevant and authoritative source; economists can apply standard methods, learned as part of their discipline; but a student or practitioner in social policy rarely has either option. The subject demands a wide range of reading, and the central skills demanded of someone working in social policy are to be able to absorb, interpret and use information from a range of different sources.
It is fairly unusual, even in the most basic essay for social policy, to find a topic which can be directly answered with a synopsis from the textbooks or by downloading likely material from the Internet. The exercise of writing is an introduction to basic research techniques and the use of original source material. Students must, however, use sources, and books are part of those sources.
The purpose of using sources is. The material which is selected has to be closely related to the problem being studied. Topics in social policy are large and complex enough to overlap with a range of topics which have little direct relationship to each other: studies of 'community care' or 'causes of poverty' can be understood and investigated in such different terms that there is almost no point of contact between the different literatures.
The difficulty this poses in social policy is that a good coverage of a problem area may still fail to address some of the important issues for policy. Equally, many of the problems which are being addressed are multi-faceted. A systematic approach considers each of the different aspects in turn.
It is important to specify sources precisely, for two main reasons. The first is that a lot of the 'facts' in social policy are disputable. There is a children's game called 'Chinese Whispers', in which children whisper a message to each other in turn.
What each person says can be misheard by the next, and by the time the message reaches the end of the line it bears little or no resemblance to what it was at the outset. The same happens in academic literature; the original work of Booth and Rowntree, for example, has been distorted beyond recognition, because people have cited other recent sources instead of reading the original.
Students need to be alert to the drawbacks of using secondary sources; it is important not to give the 'original' source if this has not been consulted, but rather to give the actual source of the comment. The second reason is that one of the tests of writing in this field is the demonstration of skills. For this purpose it is necessary to distinguish what has been selected by the writer and what has come from someone else; who has set the agenda for discussion; and where understandings of the material come from.
The same words convey a different message about skills if they come from one place, if they come from three places, or if they come from three places and contain a reflective evaluation by the student. Plagiarism, or unattributed use of sources, is a common problem in assessed coursework: it consists of passing off the work of another person as one's own, which means not just that students copy work but also that they paraphrase it, or use the arguments, without attribution.
This is a serious academic offence, and there are often heavy penalties. But it also has the effect of blurring the lines between different sources, and this means that skills cannot be demonstrated. Most plagiarism is done out of ignorance.
Students who do it have often done much more work than they have made apparent, and they might well get a higher mark if only they attribute sources properly. The Internet. The World Wide Web has become an invaluable source for accessible material on social policy. Government documents in particular have become easy to access; many legal jurisdictions now place case reports on the Web.
Governments on the web includes links to government sites around the world. There are further links on my website. New media. Apart from the web, in recent years there has been a flurry of new technologies, including blogs, Twitter and RSS feeds.
The immediacy of these sources also runs the risk that they will not last - it takes considerable dedication to run a Twitter feed - and I am sceptical that links in a book will stay up to date for long. Textbooks are used to summarise material, and to offer a range of differing opinions. Their main use is to allow people to gain an initial overview of a field; students can absorb the material and move on, occasionally referring back for different purposes.
Most students using this book will also need to get a descriptive text outlining social policy and services in their own country. The facts in such books date rapidly, however, and any information should be supplemented by drawing down facts from sites on the internet.
Academic journals. With the advent of electronic libraries, articles in academic journals have become much easier to access in recent years. Most readers can read ten articles in the time it takes to read one book, and they will probably have covered far more ground. Collected papers. Some books are collections of articles; readers can draw from them in much the same way as from a journal.
Although books in the subject are also refereed, there is rather more freedom in collected books to theorise, to speculate, and to present interim conclusions. This means that the quality of collections is variable, but it has also been an important stream of ideas on social policy; much of the feminist literature in the subject, for example, has developed in this format. Most books in social policy tend to be specialised, often putting forward a particular argument or taking a position.
The contrast between views and findings from different sources becomes more striking as more ground is covered, and the wider the ground covered, the better equipped the student is to deal with the subject. Monographs, pamphlets and working papers. One of the undesirable side-effects of using academic referees is to delay publication. This, coupled with pressure to present material in an appropriate academic framework, means that books and journals are rarely able to carry basic research reports.
Much of this kind of material appears instead in small and ephemeral publications, produced by academic institutions e. Some of the most important papers in social policy have appeared in this kind of format. It used to be difficult to track it down, but the growth of the Internet has made this kind of material much more accessible. Newspapers and periodicals. There is always a problem with books, since however accurate the book is when published, new legislation and other developments soon make parts of it out of date.
Newspapers and weeklies are helpful. Most reporting on social policy is second- or third- hand, however; most journalists are not very well informed on the subject, and newspaper reports cannot be relied on. The kinds of research monograph referred to above are important sources for many journalists. Statistical sources. Official statistics have their problems, but they are a quick and easy way to check basic facts.
The United Nations has links to national statistical offices. Primary sources. In the discussion of research methods Chapter 18 of Social Policy , I outlined a number of ways in which information might be drawn from original sources. Even for students working at a basic level, information can often be obtained directly from government, politicians, and political parties: examples are consultative documents, pamphlets, and manifestos. It is harder to get to administrative decision-makers, though not impossible by any means.
Voluntary groups often bring together observations and comments from stakeholders and service users. Students are generally asked to write both as a means to develop their skills, and in order to test their understanding. The test of understanding is that they are able to use material and put it in their own words.
The main skills being assessed are. Writing is commonly judged by the balance of facts and relevant material on one hand, and structure and argument on the other. These cannot strictly be separated. Facts and material are made relevant by argument, and in social science the argument cannot be strong if it is not supported by evidence or material. People writing about social policy need, then, to concentrate on both aspects. Part of the purpose of studying social policy is to prepare students for work in public service, where the primary form of written presentation is a report rather than an essay.
Reports differ from essays in the style of presentation. The prevailing condition is that the state plays a central role to ensure that citizens access the economic welfare and a minimum standard of living as a matter of right. A national welfare administration aid should provide a global system that steers mass production and consumption. The bureaucratic provision and the social rights translate to a developed society.
The shift from a Keynesian school of thought takes place due to some of the transnational issues in the policy-making front. Some of the factors channel unemployment, inequality, and the renegotiation of the state and individuals in the society. The change leads to a rethinking of the analytical and theoretical traditions in the welfare state.
According to Matthews and Fraser , p20 in the social work and health care normal experiences in the health and social care presents conflicts due to limited time, complex issues, setting of priorities, looking for alternatives, encountering anxiety and stress, and addressing internal and external pressures.
One encounters the challenge of realizing the limitation and finding a solution in the practice. A major policy change will lead to greater inter-agency collaboration and motivate people to support each other in the provision of quality health and social care.
Matthews and Fraser , p20 say that critical is an open-minded methodology that considers many probabilities. A constructive critical stance avoids destruction as a requirement of the practitioners. One has to have the capacity to handle uncertain situations by applying professional skills and knowledge.
Practitioners draw evidence and knowledge by being discretionary and critical in the work discourse. A critical approach assumes that the social justice underpins the provision of care to other people. The successful, caring process empowers people by preventing all forms of oppression. One has to integrate integrity and critical thinking in the moral development of other people. Human beings have the same discoveries to joy and sufferings as they wish to experience similar integrity in the cultural set up.
It is difficult for the practitioners to occupy a detached space to enable them drive a clear-cut evidence in the decisions concerning their clients. The practitioners struggle to communicate and deliberate on issues in the presence of personal and cultural ideologies in the society. A practitioner faces conflicting principles that call for reflection to protect their welfare situation.
Dickens , p13 provides a framework for social work and social policy that permits debates and controversy from different people in the society. The author observes that different people exhibit different reactions in the face of social policies and welfare provision programs.
The responsibilities and the function of the wide range of social services connect with the provision of health and education. Dickens , p13 claims that the systems and techniques will ensure quality services from social worker practitioners.
The author provides that the social work revolve around wide social policy issues, welfare services, and social values. Social care and social work portray differences in the policies within organizations among countries. The author provides a link between focus and comprehensive to enable the relevant practice that has relevance after some time. Social policy is a rapid aspect of the state that can negate change in other sectors in the country.
The political and the professional practitioner tend to solve social issues through organization to deliver quality welfare services. One has to remain focused on the central issues to endure challenges that are useful in deciding on policies and organizational concepts in the present and the future.
Practitioners have the capacity of influencing policy, as they perceive what is beyond their knowledge in the casework. The practice of policies by the service users will be unproductive without the practice by the social worker practitioners to create dynamism.
The reality of the policy applies in everyday practice through rules and routines. The social work practice concentrates on the relationships from the service users to ensure organizational competence from the social worker practitioners.
The creation of a policy will strive to create value in the social work as people receive policies set by others to enable them implement plans from other social professionals. Frost, N. London: Sage Publications Ltd. Lister, R. Bristol: The Policy Press. Dickens, J. Abingdon: Routledge Adams, R. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. We accept sample papers from students via the submission form. If this essay belongs to you and you no longer want us to display it, you can put a claim on it and we will remove it.
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