In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Social Policy

  • Introduction
  • Introductory Works
  • Reference Works
  • Data Sources
  • Journals
  • Aging Policy
  • Child Welfare Policy
  • Family Policy
  • Health Policy
  • Housing Policy
  • Mental Health Policy
  • Social Security
  • Welfare and Welfare Reform
  • International and Comparative Perspectives

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Social Work Social Policy
Michael Reisch
  • LAST REVIEWED: 01 May 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 December 2010
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389678-0087


Social policy has both broad and narrow definitions in the literature. A broad definition includes such diverse areas as income maintenance, assets development, health and mental health, child welfare, family policy, housing, employment, juvenile and criminal justice, and services to particular populations, such as the aged, women, and persons with disabilities. Under some definitions, policies in the areas of education, public transportation, community and economic development, environmental protection, and energy assistance are also included. Narrower definitions sometimes conflate social policy with social welfare policy or with policies that serve low-income persons. The vast literature on US social policy can be roughly divided into the following categories: works that focus on US social policy in general, works that look at specific aspects of social policy (e.g., Social Security, public assistance, family policy, health care) possibly from a comparative or international perspective, and works that examine the historical development or ideological foundations of social policy. This entry identifies sources from the fields of social work, public policy, law, and history with specific reference to those that address the relationship of social policy to social welfare and social work. In addition to leading texts and more specific works on social policy, it also identifies major journals that address social policy issues, Internet resources, reference books (such as encyclopedias and guidebooks), works that reflect an international or comparative perspective, and bibliographies. Every effort has been made to include sources in English from Europe, North America, South Asia, and Australia.

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