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What role do the concepts 'need' and inequality play in social policy?

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  • Essay length: 1536 words
  • Submitted: 06/06/2005
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GCSE Sociology

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What role do the concepts 'need' and inequality play in social policy?

From the inauguration of state organised welfare the concepts of 'need' and inequality have been at the centre of discussions and debates on social policy. Since the 19th century it has widely been accepted that the state has some responsibility towards attempting to fulfil some of civil societies needs and the needs of those most at risk. Changing definitions and attitudes surround the concepts of need and inequality; this means any discussion of these instantly encapsulates the political and ideological debates which effect all aspects of social policy. Titmuss (ed. 1987) writes that 'collectively provided services are deliberately designed to meet certain socially recognized 'needs'; they are manifestations' this means any changes within these are interrelated with those in society. Miller (1987) draws from Titmuss's work explaining that the inequality which creates need is formed from the very nature of an advanced industrial society as 'the costs of economic growth and stability are not evenly distributed' he describes the welfare state as 'compensation for the vulnerables who pay the prices of 'progress' (1987). This essay seeks to examine the concept of need within social policy by

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