What is social policy? Is it like social work?

Mina Antwi

Faculty: Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care
School: School of Education and Social Care
Category: Social sciences and social care

5 May 2017

As this is my first blog I found it difficult thinking about where and how to start. So, I decided to start off with the difference between social policy and social work - and why I think social policy is important.

I have heard so many people associate social policy with social work. I see why because they are both ‘social’ subjects, which reflect each other to an extent.

Initially I was keen on studying social work, but life happens [and] I am a social policy student, I love my course and in my opinion, social policy is very different from social work.

Social work and social policy courses at ARU

We offer BA (Hons) Social Work, MA Social Work, and MSc International Social Welfare and Social Policy courses. Find out more about them, and studying at ARU, at one of our Open Days.

Social policy helps us to understand social problems in our society or world and their causes, which affects every individual and how the government have or are implementing policies to solve these social problems. These social problems may include issues with the NHS, education, housing, poverty, crime, environmental, unemployment, the EU, citizenship and migration.

Social work on the other hand, involves working directly with people, to bring about social change to help improve their standard of living (from a young child to an adult, or the elderly). The key purpose of social work is to support and protect people who are considered vulnerable in society. They may support people with issues such as drug and alcohol problems, mental distress, family and conflict problems or children in care.

To summarise, social policy deals with social problems in society and social work deals with social problems people experience in society. Both work hand in hand to bring about a social change but in different context and settings. Makes sense, doesn't it?

Social policy should not be taken lightly or for granted because, it is through learning and understanding about social policy, we understand the world and society we live in. From as little as the effects of litter dropping to extreme poverty around the world.

Social policy helps you to be become more involved with society and to find practical means, with the influence of the government, to solve these social issues, for society and the world to become a better place. For example, with the NHS, we all need health services and therefore, it is important to be aware of changes in the NHS, which may affect our chances of receiving health care. By removing social problems in the society, we also remove the chances of us as individuals experiencing these social problems, big or small.

I hope that after reading my blog, understanding social policy has become much clearer – and if anyone asks, you have an idea of the difference as well as its importance.



The views expressed here are those of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of Anglia Ruskin University. If you've got any concerns please contact us.