The Discipline of Social Policy and Biculturalism(1)

By Lunt, Neil | Social Policy Journal of New Zealand, July 1999 | Go to article overview

The Discipline of Social Policy and Biculturalism(1)


Lunt, Neil, Social Policy Journal of New Zealand


An attempt to reform the university without attending to the system of which it is an integral part is like trying to do urban renewal in New York city from the twentieth storey up. (Illich 1973:44)

INTRODUCTION

The purpose of this paper is to explore aspects of the academic discipline of social policy, asking critical questions about its assumptions and origins. In particular, it explores the extent to which social policy reflects dominant belief systems and the implications of this for ethnicity and culture. Social policy is not alone; a number of academic disciplines have recently undergone their own "cultural audit". Anthropology has revisited its anthropological "gaze", while the revisionist challenge in history has unmasked the subject as something always written by the victor to the detriment of the vanquished. Similarly, the discipline of economics has been critiqued for building on particular assumptions of what constitutes rational economic man (sic), while education according to the "Colonial School", rather than liberating, has been destructive of "native" society and beliefs. The privileged position of such academic disciplines and the knowledge they produce has been considered a form of cultural and intellectual imperialism, helping to cement dominant power relations.

In exploring the foundations of social policy, the paper illustrates how its methods and subject matter "mask" whiteness, and how this may present barriers to exploring biculturalism. The paper discusses five positions or stances that may be taken to social policy analysis within New Zealand: monoculturalism; multiculturalism; focusing on the Treaty; sloganising; and problematising paradigms. It suggests that making these positions transparent is a useful starting point when seeking to understand the relationship between social policy and biculturalism.

Background

This paper arises from the author having relocated to an academic social policy department within New Zealand, having previously undertaken empirical policy research for government departments, international organisations and non-statutory funding bodies within the UK. Once in post, discussions with colleagues encouraged a reconsideration of the fundamental premises of social policy that had been carried as intellectual baggage. Such dialogues clarified the positions that may be taken towards social policy analysis and biculturalism within New Zealand. These positions are tools of analysis to assist in the exploration and unpacking of social policy, rather than reflections on contemporary policy approaches.

THE DISCIPLINE OF SOCIAL POLICY

The roots of social policy and social work lie in the Fabian reformist, social administrative tradition of the early twentieth century. As an area of inquiry or discipline(2) it borrows from a range of disciplines, principally political science, economics, sociology, public administration and anthropology(3) (Marsh 1965, Brown 1969).

This hybrid of social administration is influenced by a range of ideas about the nature of knowledge, the process of social change, and ideas about policy making and democracy. At an epistemological level, social administrative approaches to policy studies hold that institutions could be reformed to good effect if we knew the "facts" and could present evidence about current ways of doing things. Incremental change will result once policy makers are aware of empirical evidence, and institutions will gradually evolve.

Social administration adopts a rational approach to problem solving, with social problems typically viewed as having an objective existence. Thus, problems exist, are identifiable, and are open to amelioration and alleviation (Marsh 1965, Brown 1969). As Brown writes: "social administration is concerned with social problems and [second] it is concerned with the ways in which society responds to those problems" (p.13). Absent from the social administration perspective are later critiques that suggest problems are social constructions which are created and exacerbated by societal influences and pressures (Holstein and Miller 1993, Sarbin and Kitsuse 1994). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Discipline of Social Policy and Biculturalism(1)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.