You make a very good case for the discussion of social policy that follows. However, coming from a human rights tradition, I would define access to the basic social services in terms of social and economic rights. The problem, though, is that not everyone considers social-economic rights as human rights. I would still go that way because then it puts policy formulation in the perspective of what citizens deserve verses what would be good to have access to.
Social Policy Concept
You begin by arguing that “the concept of social policy is self explanatory and it conveys the same meaning to every reader and requires no explicit definition.” I am not sure if everyone would agree with you there. You do give a working definition later, which is good. But I have some difficulties with that first statement. You also say that “social policy is a lay term, not a technical one.” That might be true, but I would not actually say it out. Your reader might feel offended if they are not able to define social policy.
Interestingly, while observing that social policy is not a technical term, you go on to explain it in terms of quality of life. Now I think the concept of quality of life is technical and different people will have different views on what exactly is covered by quality of life. Obviously, from your introduction, one can presume that quality of life means access to basic services – shelter, education, healthcare, clean water, sanitation, etc. But for the sake of a ‘lay person’ reading this, you might want to give a brief explanation of what exactly is meant by quality of life.
I would also include, in this section, or perhaps even as an independent section, a discussion on the common good. By the common good, I mean those societal and economic conditions that:
- Guarantee access to any goods that are, as such, public goods
- Enable true social participation in the goods of society, even goods that are not per se public
- Establish the possibility for (at least minimal) human flourishing both as individuals and in one’s fated or chosen groups
From the foregoing, one can argue that the common good represents the ensemble of enabling conditions for societal flourishing of human potential.
Financing Social Policy
You make a rather broad statement about the political and economic differences between Africa and western nations. These obviously contribute to the way social policy is both formulated and implemented, but they are a little too broad. I don’t know how you could reformulate the section.
I definitely agree that we need more funding in social policy development. This should go hand-in-hand with civic education, which you imply but never explicitly mention the section on Intervention Entry Points.
For now I do not have comments on the last three sections of your social policy, i.e. What Next for Social Policy? Intervention Entry Points, and Social Impact. When I do, I will let you know.
Just thinking loudly…
Here’s an idea that you might want to look, just a thought that came to mind while reading your piece. (You can throw it into the trash can… I won’t mind)…
Social Policy & Sustainable Development
Sustainable development of a nation, including its social policy, requires regulatory polices that satisfy both political feasibility and the economic conditions of maintaining financial viability. To this end, social policy formulation will require serious academic research and in-put, not only political will. If we can get the best equipped women and men to draw up our policies, then we would be heading in the right direction. What draws Africa back, in my view, is that politicians attempt to be both policy formulators and implementers. Unfortunately, most of these politicians have no understanding of the basic economic and even political rules. All they are interested in is to enrich themselves and how to win the next election.
I think social policy should be designed in such a way that it has potential for sustainable development. Get politicians out the formulation stage.