Hartley Dean: What is Social Policy?

Επιμέλεια: Ντούνης Ανδρέας

Σε αυτό το πολύ ενδιαφέρον βίντεο ο καθηγητής του LSE Hartley Dean αναλύει σύντομα αλλά εξαιρετικά το περιεχόμενο του ακαδημαϊκού πεδίου της κοινωνικής πολιτικής, δίδοντας έμφαση στη διεπιστημονικότητα του αντικειμένου αλλά και στον κύριο σκοπό του που αφορά τις συνθήκες προαγωγής της πραγματικής αλληλεγγύης και της ανθρώπινης ευημερίας εντός μίας κοινωνίας «αλληλεξαρτώμενων ανθρώπων» υπό το πρίσμα ενός αξιακού πλαισίου που προκρίνει την κοινωνική δικαιοσύνη.

Η μελέτη της ανθρώπινης ευημερίας και όχι απλώς της επιβίωσης βρίσκεται στο επίκεντρο της τοποθέτησης του Dean για το πεδίο της κοινωνικής πολιτικής ενώ σημαντική είναι και η διάκριση/ επισήμανση σχετικά με τον «χαρακτήρα της μελέτης των κοινωνικών προβλημάτων»: η ίδια η μορφή υλοποίησης κοινωνικών πολιτικών μπορεί να δημιουργεί ή/και να οξύνει τα κοινωνικά προβλήματα..


My name is Hartley Dean. I am from London School of Economics and I teach social policy. And I am often asked: «well, what is social policy»?

Not everybody is all together clear of what social policy is as an academic subject, and it’s worth saying first of all what it’s not, it isn’ t a branch of sociology, it’s  much more than that, certainly it draws on sociology, sociology is very important. It isn’ t training for social work or for public sector management, although it’s incredibly useful academic background for those things.

And it isn’t the study of dismal social problems and all the rest of it. Social problems are certainly a part of what social policy has to look at but I like to think of social policy as being much more than that. That has very much to do with the study of human well-being if you like, the systems that are necessary to sustain human well-being, the social relations upon which human well-being really depends,

And not just for human survival, but for… human flourishing as it were. So to that extent, the scope of social policy as an academic subject is pretty infinite… So, it’s certainly big bucks… If you think about it: in a country like UK, about two-thirds of all public spending, that’ s big money, is spent on what you can call social policy.

That’s about a quarter of gross domestic product of all the money that is made in this country. This is big stuff!


But at the same time, it’s also about of the minutiae of everyday lives. It’s what is required for us to be able to live a good life. We all need health, we need to be healthy, we need education, we need descend housing, we need jobs, we need money when we get older we need pensions and so on,

But we also need things like identity, and security and fundamentally social policy is the study of how we care for how we care about each other in a society of interdependent human beings.

And that can be achieved through government on the one hand, but it is also achieved on everyday basis: within our families, within communities, non-governmental organizations can have a lot to do with the provision of social policy particularly in developing countries, for example…

So… We are all concerned on how to understand all those processes and to understand them critically, and the important thing about social policy is that yes it is a social science, it is a social science subject that is essentially interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary..

We draw on a range of different social sciences. I often like to say social policy academics and social policy students doesn’t mean that they are “butterflies” fleeting aimlessly from idea to idea, we are much more like .. we are ruthless, we are promiscuous, we raid the social sciences for whatever ideas are actually useful in order to explore the problems that are associated with policy making in the pursuit of human well-being.

So, yes, we draw on economics cause we want to know who gets what in society, we draw on politics, because we want to know who’s in control of all those stuff, we draw on sociology, because yes we are concerned about the complexity of human society, the multiple divisions in human societies, the conflicts and conflicting interests and yes indeed that’s business about social problems, but remembering that some of the social problems that we are concerned with at a policy level are, the policy of the problems actually created by society, created by social policy provision itself often. It’ s important to remember that social policy is very much a critical, analytical, rigorous sort of subject all be at one for is there for the people who may feel passionately about various things, various problems in society, issues of poverty or social injustice or whatever it may actually be.

– Hartley Dean.




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