"We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience." -John Dewey
[The following is a synthesis of ideas from Spicker’s Social Policy: Themes and Approaches (2008) and Titmuss’ Commitment to Welfare (1968)]
The multidisciplinary, problem-oriented study of social policy is a combination of philosophical issues regarding human rights, public policy formation and administration, the sociological study of conditions of “diswelfare” or disadvantage, and a variety of possible collective responses to these problems. The following outline breaks down these main ideas into pertinent subcategories of knowledge:
1. Philosophy: the social rights of the citizen as contributor, participant and user of social services
2. Processes of policy formation and administrative practice of social services, including health administration, social security, education, employment services, social work, and housing management.
2A. Administrative issues including the organizational structure and function of services (including the roles and functions of elected representatives, professional workers, and interest groups), planning procedures, distribution, and both intended and unintended consequences of social services. Scholars may approach these subjects from an historical or comparative perspective.
3. Conditions of impaired welfare (and resulting problems of access to, utilization and equal outcomes of services), including disability, unemployment, mental illness, intellectual disability, and old age.
4. Social problems (their nature, attributes, distributions, and social costs) including crime, addiction, and family breakdown.
5. Sociological differences related to disadvantage, including race, gender, and poverty.
6. The range of collective responses to these circumstances, including those of the “welfare state”, mutual aid, voluntary effort, and social infrastructure in industry.