Many sociologists, such as Marxist and feminists, believe that a major purpose Of their work is to bring about social change through arousing awareness of inequalities. Anthony Giddiness, a government advisor on social policy, suggests sociology can help to solve social problems in a variety of ways. Sociologists collect facts and drive theories about social situations such as poverty. They help us to understand and empathic with the problems of marginal’s groups by describing their cultures and revealing stereotypes, which can also be done by labeling theory.
Published work by sociologists may encourage people such as women, gays and ethnic minorities to consider their experience, role and self image so that they can take action to improve their lives. Finally some sociologists are directly employed by government agencies to find out data to help decide on new policies and to monitor their effects. Townsend, another sociologist, identified the extent and causes of poverty in the I-J. He did this based on surveys of over 2000 households in order to come up with a social policy, as he thought sociology can and should inform social policy.
He used is findings to put forward solutions such as more progressive taxation to fund more welfare for the poor. The overall findings of this study were that poverty remained a huge, though hidden, problem in the K. Lea and Sock Young two sociologists, believe that sociology is closely linked to social policy. They used the results of local victim surveys to put forward a range of practical solutions in order to reduce crime levels. Both Lea and Young claim that state intervention and community involvement are essential to halt the spread of crime because crime levels could be seen as quite high to some people.
An example of this is that these sociologists have encouraged closer partnerships between the police and local communities, which could also result in people feeling safer. Also, these sociologists make a strong case for fewer custodial sentences and more community service orders which could result in a social policy being formed due to sociology. Functionalists and positivist perspectives believe that sociology should be involved and should inform social policies. This is because they should provide Information and be scientific in the way that the information is used.
However, while functionalists claim to be objective, many state that they should influence policies. Even though they claim to be objective as well as subjective in certain areas, functionalists have drawn criticisms for having a double standard. They were criticized for being in power but not utilizing the power they hold in order to improve certain areas of society. This criticism comes mostly from Marxist and Feminists who state that they should try and change the existing power structures as it oppresses the poor in society but also women in certain aspects which results in patriarchy.
As a result of this, functionalists defend themselves by stating that the political system provides a function in society, and they must therefore aid it in as many ways as possible. Liberal feminists on the other hand believe patriarchy is prevalent in society and views can be changed in society through negotiation, which in this case can be social policies. Some examples of this can include the equal pay act and sex discrimination act. They believe like left-wing functionalists that social policies can be used to aid the people in society that are less of which in retain cases is the poor but in this case it is women.
However, these feminists still believe that all policies that have been passed are patriarchal but also believe that, as well as social policy, society must be changed from the base upwards and sociology can do this. On the other hand, many can argue that sociology can’t or should not inform social policy. Radical sociological theorists claim that sociologists should not be involved in making social policy solutions. This is because they believe sociologists should be independent from government and not get funded by government. The other season is be critical of their actions or because they are ideologically opposed to policy making.
One group of theorists that are against sociology being closely related to social policy is new right theorists. New right theorists are often against sociologists making social policy recommendations, as they believe that the state should have a minimal involvement in social problems. Murray, a sociologist, maintains that providing generous welfare as a social policy solution for poverty actually makes the problem worse. This is because it creates a dangerous underclass that become dependent on welfare, such s young girls getting pregnant in order to get a house or be unemployed.
However, the idea of this is a major new right thinking contradiction. The New Right believe that governments only intervene when it suits their beliefs because it suits them but governments should intervene when it is necessary instead of when they have a belief. An example is, social policy initiatives that prop up the traditional nuclear family and legislation, which restricts gypsy’s rights. Marxist are another example of theorists believe that sociology should not inform social policy especially hard line Marxist. Westward and Reseller, hard line Marxist, are against making social policy recommendations on welfare.
They believe that if sociologists, such as Townsend, encourage more benefits this will only serve to reduce class solidarity. This is because they believe that welfare “buys off’ the working class and prevents them from realizing their true class interests due to the fact that the get benefits for children and they can get housing benefits. Westward and Reseller say that social problems faced by the working class such as poverty can only be overcome through a proletarian revolution whose end aim would be to create a communist society, to start a revolution in order to overthrow capitalist and become a communist society.
Postmodernists, however, believe that social policies are pointless which means that they can’t or shouldn’t inform social policy. This is because there is such a high level of individualism within society which means policies are ineffective and useless. The reason for policies being this way is because people can choose what policies they wish to follow and the ones that they don’t want to follow. They state that nothing is certain, a sociologist Leotard believed that there was an end to the intransitives which are the big stories in society.
There is now no longer a single society that everybody lives inside their own unattractive which allows themselves to choose everything they see and do. Postmodernists believe that, because nothing is now certain, nothing can be relied upon to be true, meaning that common definitions used by policies are incorrect which therefore makes them ineffective. This therefore means that to pass policies that influence society in any way, definitions must be found for common occurrences such as crime or the family, which can’t be done which means sociology can’t or shouldn’t be linked to social policies.
Overall, it can be argued that sociology should and can inform social policies within society. This is mostly argued by sociologist Giddiness as he said that sociological research can help and inform social policies that are important for people to have in wider society. However, there are many groups of theorists that would argue sociology can’t and shouldn’t inform social policy such as postmodernists and Marxist.