Poverty and the welfare state at century’s end: paradoxes and prospects
This chapter considers one of the central questions confronting contemporary social policy, the paradox of widespread poverty among riches, and what sociology has to offer by way of explanation and prescription. In this chapter, there are three major ways in which is assert the need to tackle social policy issues from sociological directions. First and foremost, identifiable social problems and issues such as poverty, child abuse, alcoholism, ill health, old age, etc., Second, as a consequence of the 'New Sociology' of the 1960s onwards, initially through labelling theory and more latterly through 'social constructionist' analysis. Thirdly, then, Social Policy is sociological in that practitioners need to be reflexive, critically aware that the frameworks they adopt are necessarily influenced by socially situated values and interests. Sociologically, the sense of an unstoppable onward march was encapsulated by T. H. Marshall's conception of the welfare state as a natural evolution from a liberal-democratic society.