The Dynamics of Social Welfare Policy

The Dynamics of Social Welfare Policy

The Dynamics of Social Welfare Policy

The Dynamics of Social Welfare Policy


The Dynamics of Social Welfare Policy reinvents the contemporary social welfare policy textbook. Organized around the explicit premise that every kind of social work practice embodies a social welfare policy, the book develops three types of knowledge: (1) a description of social welfare policy, (2) a model for understanding any social welfare policy, and (3) tools for thinking critically about social welfare. Recognizing the fluidity of social welfare, the book also helps undergraduate and graduate students identify the triggers that lead to changes in social policy, and, in turn, influence what social workers actually do. This innovative text presents complex and challenging ideas so that all students can understand them. It reconfigures the discussion of basic policy issues--the construction of social problems, descriptions of major social welfare programs, and the purpose and functions of social welfare policy-in a fresh and accessible way. Covering all CSWE policy-required topics, the text breaks new ground as well by laying out a five-part policy model that shows how the forces of ideology, politics, history, economics, and social movements interact both to create and to change the social welfare system. Through full chapters on each component, this model explores and clarifies the complicated relationship between social policy and social change, including issues of race, class, and gender. This practical and real-world text empowers students. By making them aware of the persuasive influence of policy on practice, it prepares them as professionals in the twenty-first century to understand the past, present, and future dynamics of social welfare policy.


This social welfare policy text is written for students of social work and related human services. It has four underlying premises.

The first premise is that social welfare policy pervades every aspect of social welfare. This point is obviously valid for work that is plainly policy-related— lobbying, organizing, and administration—but it is also true when we counsel people. In effect, social policy pays us to have conversations with clients. Once we recognize this fact, we will have more helpful conversations and talk less angrily to ourselves.

The second premise is that knowledge about social welfare policy demands familiarity with the factors that shape it. We have woven these factors into a model of policy analysis, which is simply a tool for analyzing social welfare policy. The prospect may seem intimidating now, but when you learn how to use this tool, you will be able to analyze any social welfare policy.

The third premise is that knowledge about social welfare policy demands familiarity with some of its most prominent substantive areas. Because these subjects—income security, employment, housing, health, and food—perme- ate the entire field of social welfare policy, we have devoted a chapter to each of them.

The fourth and final premise of this book assumes the permanence of change in social welfare policy. What are the triggers of change in social welfare policy? What makes it evolve? And what might we do to make it . . .

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