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Evaluate the view that sociological arguments and research findings generally have little influence on the social policies of

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Evaluate the view that sociological arguments and research findings generally have little influence on the social policies of governments (40 marks) Pat Mac Neill defined social policy as actions of governments that have a direct effect on welfare of the citizens of a country. The relationship between sociology and social policy is a two way one. Not only is social policy decisions influenced by sociology but also sociology can affect social policies. A social policy is defined as a course of action - often undertaken by governments or businesses to deal with a perceived social problem such as academic failure, crime and suicide. In recent years, research by sociologists has had a certain influence upon government policy in a number of western societies, e.g. UK and the USA. By identifying the causes of social problems in a scientific manner, sociologists have been able to assist governments in policy decisions to eradicate these problems. ...read more.


It was a great success. Much sociological research has been simulated by the social policies of governments of local authorities. Sociologists have often investigated the consequences of social policy decisions to see if these policies have achieved their objectives, for example J Fords study of a comprehensive school in London titled "Social class and the Comprehensive school" claimed to do this. Also Ford, in her analysis of Cherry Dale Comprehensive set out to see if comprehensive education was achieving all the objections that the government had hoped. After a careful positivistic (scientific) study she concluded that comprehensive schooling tended to reproduce many of the shortcomings of the old tripartite system of education. She concluded that this was largely due to streaming. She also said that Comprehensive education as a social policy had failed either to bridge the gap in academic achievement between the social classes or produce social mixing between blue collar and white-collar pupils. ...read more.


This has been the case on the issue of education. For example, sociologists employed in Project Headstart, which was funded by the US government went to a good deal of trouble to explain the poor educational performance of Working Class children (especially boys) in terms of their home backgrounds, e.g. lack of parental interest; dysfunctional family structure; etc. It was then suggested that this process could be halted by a social policy of compensatory education. These findings could be seen as a deliberate attempt by powerful middle class groups to use sociologists as a 'smokescreen' to hide the real source of academic inequality i.e. the White Middle class bias in school knowledge. In this way, sociologists have provided the evidence and suggested social policies that merely supported the interests of capitalism and the bourgeoisie. Therefore being a prop to the capitalist status quo by producing politically safe decisions. The connection between sociology and social policy is an important and reciprocal one. For this reason therefore the link between these two areas is an interesting and meaningful field of enquiry. ...read more.

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