Policies are principles that guide decisions in organizations, governments, or other groups. Social policy, specifically, refers to those areas of policy that deal with human welfare and social services, such as education, health care, labor, civil rights, and economic welfare. For instance, social policy in the 19th and 20th centuries was designed to limit child labor in the United States. Unions, political organizations, and social workers advocated to end child slavery, reduce hours, and eventually achieve a complete ban on employment of children under 14 years of age with the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act (Child Labor Public Education Project, 2011). This change in child labor policy could not have been possible without sound reasoning and theoretical support. Consider that until the early 20th century, child labor—for children as young as 5—was seen as natural and acceptable for many people. Looked at through the theory of social constructionism (though this is not the only theoretical lens the issue could be viewed through), one could see that child labor was constructed, perceived as acceptable, and institutionalized by society collectively. As such, it became institutionalized and ingrained in the fabric of society and was difficult to dispel. It did not, however, represent a universal or natural truth.
Paradigms, theories, and social policy are used in tandem within the human and social services to continue to improve services and welfare for societies and individuals. When creating or reforming social policies, theoretical underpinnings and research give policymakers a foundation to advocate in the best interest of clients.
For this Discussion, you choose your own social policy to critique and consider theories that would support the creation or reform of your policy.
Choose a social policy related to a human or social services program. Consider behavioral, cognitive, or social theories that support the creation or reform of this social policy.
By Day 3
Post a brief description of the social policy related to the human or social services program you selected. Then explain one theory that supports the creation or reform of this social policy. Explain how the creation or reform of social policies can create social change. Be specific, and provide examples from the literature to support your post.
By Day 5
Respond to at least two colleagues in one or more of the following ways:
- Provide additional resources supporting your colleague’s posting.
- Suggest another theory that might be applied to the social policy your colleague discussed.
- Offer alternative viewpoints and insights on your colleague’s post.
- Ask for clarification.