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Sociology and social policy are often intertwined, social policy are legislations passed by the
government which impact society. Examples of social policy include the equal pay act which had a big
impact on society and may be considered a big social change for from a feminist prospective.
Giddens states there are four reasons to study sociology and these reasons are why
sociology informs social policy. The first is that it demonstrates why things occur in certain social
situations and provides us with explanations for example the sex-role theory explains why women
may be more likely to commit crime than women, it explains that women are socialised to be
submissive and sociable giving them access to role models and keeping them away from crime in
comparison boys are socialised to be aggressive and dominant leading them into crime. This is
beneficial as it can help create effective policies in relation to the explanations.
The second is that it helps policy makers to see a different perspective from their own for
example policy makers may be unaware of the discrimination which is faced by the disabled or ethnic
minorities. As sociology provides this explanation is encourages policy makers to implement policies
which combat this for example the discrimination act which aimed to put a stop to discrimination.
Although an issue is that there are many conflicts throughout sociology and therefore it is hard for
policy makers to make an informed decision when implementing policies due to the conflicting ideas.
Thirdly it helps policy makers asses the results of policy incentives for example a sociological
review found that the policy sure start was failing ethnic minorities. This research by sociologists
could then help policy makers further by allowing them to improve or make additional policies as a
result of these findings. However there are further issues with these as different sociologists have
different opinions on effect methods for example positivists believe that quantitative data should be
used in contrast to phenomenologist's who believe that qualitative methods would be more
Finally it encourages individuals to generate greater self-understanding this knowledge
allows people to reflect upon their experiences of life which may lead to questioning of government
policies and creation of protest groups with non-government initiatives enabling people to liberate
themselves, for example sociology has shown the extent to which homosexuals have been
discriminated, as a result the gay community demanded gay rights, showing that they were
empowered by this knowledge and allowing them to do something to change social policy.
For left realists results from victim studies made by sociologists are beneficial in finding
practical solutions to crime one example of this are the sociological research into the success of
ASBOs and tagging. This demonstrates the importance of sociology working closely with social policy
and how sociology can have a big impact on policy decisions. Left realism also states how sociology
has an indirect influence on gathering opinions of different social groups for example the sociological
studies which found that there is cultural deprivation which in turn resulted the educational priorities
areas. This again demonstrates the important link between sociology and social policy and
demonstrates how the two are intertwined.
Furthermore functionalists and positivists such as Comte and Durkheim claim that sociologist's
main role is to provide the state with accurate, objective and scientific facts made in sociology in
order to create effective policies. Although this is criticised as sociology cannot always be as
objective as Durkheim and Comte suggest, for example Durkheim's study of suicide was influenced
by his personal opinion as a friend recently committed suicide meaning the results may be subjective.
However in contrast to the views discussed post modernism states that sociology is in no
position to make recommendations which will influence social policy as it is not possible to objectively
identify scientific truth. Bauman states that in post modern times sociologists should only take the
role as interpreters and should not and cannot be considered legislators. Although we should always
be critical of post modernism as it states that there is no objective truth yet also claiming to be the
truth, questioning its validity.
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Marxism agrees with post modernism in that sociology should not influence social policy this
is because sociology is greatly influenced my ruling class ideology and is interpreted by ruling class
interpreters for example in Durkheim claims how crime is inevitable and beneficial to all members of
society although Marxists claim that laws are passed and enforced in support of the elite and that
laws are not passed if they put the ruling class at a disadvantage.…read more