The Sociology of Social Security

The Sociology of Social Security

The Sociology of Social Security

The Sociology of Social Security

Excerpt

A book entitled The Sociology of Social Security constitutes a challenge to those in both the sociological community and the social security industry who contend that sociology has contributed very little and has little to contribute to our understanding of social security. Although social security has attracted a certain amount of attention from lawyers and economists, it is true that social security has not, at least until recently, attracted much attention from sociologists. This is in spite of the centrality of social security for what has become known as the 'welfare state', its enormous significance for those who depend on it for their livelihood, its institutional and ideological salience, and the vigorous claims which are frequently made about its insidious effects on family life, work incentives, social cohesion and the moral order of society (for examples of such claims, see Herder-Dorneich, 1982; and Murray, 1984 and 1990).

Given the relative neglect of social security by sociologists, the decision to publish a book with this title calls for an explanation. This is in three parts. The first, which is a normative judgement, is that the failure of sociologists to take social security seriously is a matter of considerable regret since the manifest importance of social security as a social institution makes it a very rewarding subject for sociological inquiry. We believe that sociological analysis has a major contribution to make not only to an understanding of social security but also to attempts to formulate alternative scenarios for social security and to modify and reform existing social security provisions. The second, which is a statement of fact, is that there are encouraging signs that a sociology of social security is now beginning to emerge. The chapters which follow, all of which were originally presented at the Second International Seminar on the Sociology of Social Security which was held at the University of Edinburgh in July 1989, are testimony to this. The third, which may be no more than an aspiration on our part, is that the publication of this book may provide some further impetus to the development of a sociology of social security.

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