Social policy is the actions, plans and programmes of government bodies and agencies aim to deal with a problem or achieve a goal, for example, preventing crime or reducing poverty. Social policies are sometimes influenced by the findings of sociologists, however this usually depends on the government in power and their political ideologies.
There are different types of social problems that cause public concern such as crime and poverty; these usually need some sort of solution. And there are also areas of sociological interest that may have an impact on policy such as why some people are poor, commit crime, or fail in school. Sociologists carry out their research from a number of theoretical perspectives, and depending on the views they adopt they will have different ideas about the nature of social problems and know how to solve them. Early positivist and functionalist sociologists, such as Comte and Durkheim, would argue that sociology was a science and would discover both the cause of social problems and scientifically based solutions to them. Both positivist and functionalists see social policies beneficial to society as a whole, and contribute to it running smoothly. For example, educational policies help to promote equal opportunity and reduce class boundaries.
However Marxists would argue that social problems such as underachievement are simply aspects of a wider structure of class inequality, and unlike functionalists, they do not see the state and its policies beneficial to all members of society. In Marxists view, the state represents the ruling class, and social policies serve the interests of capitalism as opposed to society as a whole. For example Marxists would state that social policies, such as the NHS, maintain the labour force for further exploitation.
From a social democratic approach, sociologists, such as Townsend, believe that sociologist should be involved in researching social problems and making policy recommendations to eradicate...