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The Dynamics of Social Welfare Policy

Fourth Edition

Joel Blau and Mimi Abramovitz

Publication Date - 17 February 2014

ISBN: 9780199316014

560 pages
7 x 10 inches

In Stock

The Fourth Edition of The Dynamics of Social Welfare Policy applies its innovative policy model to the latest developments in social welfare including the policies of President Obama. It offers real insight into what drives social policy and social change in the past as well as in the beginnings of a new political era.


The Dynamics of Social Welfare Policy uses the lens of an innovative policy model and an emphasis on social change to break new ground in social welfare policy texts. Starting from the explicit premise that every kind of social work practice embodies a social policy, the book stresses that policy knowledge enables social workers to help clients as well as to help themselves. Drawing on this awareness, the text then makes the standard social welfare policy material come alive by asking two new questions: 1) what factors trigger social change in these social policies?; and 2) how do these factors affect the social policies that influence what social workers actually do? To answer these questions, it develops a five-part policy model, which shows, through full chapters on each subject, how economics, politics, ideology, social movements, and the history of social welfare define social welfare policy.


  • Offers a dynamic and comprehensive policy model
  • Focuses on social change in a time of social change
  • Has a progressive orientation that more closely mirrors the new political era
  • Sidebars, graphics, and study questions highlight the main points and ensure that every student understands the fundamental concepts in social welfare policy
  • Visit the companion website to find instructor resources including book study questions, class discussion questions (with answers provided), individual chapter quizzes, a sample syllabus, and weblinks/resources.

About the Author(s)

Joel Blau, DSW, is Professor of Social Policy at the School of Social Welfare, Stony Brook University.

Mimi Abramovitz, DSW, is Bertha Capen Reynolds Professor of Social Policy, Hunter College School of Social Work and The Graduate Center, City University of New York.

Table of Contents

    PART I Introducing Social Welfare Policy

    1 Introduction: Social Problems, Social Policy, Social Change
    How Are Social Problems Constructed?
    Who Gets to Define a Social Problem?
    Social Policy and Social Work
    Theories of Social Change
    Change and Social Welfare Policy: A Policy Model
    The Triggers of Social Change: An Overview

    2 Definition and Functions of Social Welfare Policy: Setting the Stage for Social Change Mimi Abramovitz
    What Is Social Welfare Policy?
    Broadening the Definition of Social Welfare Policy
    Deepening the Definition of Social Welfare Policy
    Competing Functions of Social Welfare Policy
    Overview of Major Social Welfare Programs
    Organizing Principles: Who Benefits from Universal or Selective Provision?

    PART II The Policy Model

    3 The Economy and Social Welfare
    The Words We Use
    The Structure of the Economy
    Measuring the Functioning of the Economy
    The Terms and Tools of Economic Policy
    Social Welfare and the Economy in Historical Context
    Production for Profit versus Production for Need
    The Economy versus Social Welfare?
    Downsizing and Outsourcing
    Trade Unions
    The Minimum Wage
    Enron and the Corporate Scandals
    A New Economic Crisis

    4 The Politics of Social Welfare Policy
    Political Science Theories: Decision Making, Definitions of Democracy, and Majority Rule
    Definitions of Democracy
    The American System of Government: Federalism
    U.S. Government: Its Distinctive Characteristics
    Divided Government
    The Political Functions of Social Welfare
    The Implications for Social Welfare Policy

    5 Ideological Perspectives and Conflicts Mimi Abramovitz
    What Is Ideology?
    Social Welfare Ideology and Social Change
    The Ideology of Human Nature
    The General Welfare: Individuals in Society
    The Ideology of the Definition of Need
    The Ideology of the Role of the Government
    The Ideology of Work and the Work Ethic
    The Ideology of Family
    The Ideology of Racial Inequality
    Ideologies of Professionalism

    6 Social Movements and Social Change Mimi Abramovitz
    Ways of Becoming Active
    Social Movements, Contradictions, and Social Change
    Theories of Social Movements
    From Theory to Practice: Using Ideology When Seeking Social Change

    7 Social Welfare History in the United States
    The Ambiguities of U.S. Social Welfare History
    What the British Brought
    Social Welfare in the Colonies (1619-1783)
    Independence to the End of the Civil War (1783-1865)
    The End of the Civil War to the Progressive Era (1865-1900)
    The Progressive Era to the New Deal (1900-1932)
    The New Deal to World War II (1933-1945)
    Post-World War II to the Great Society (1946-1968)
    1969-2008: The Conservative Response
    A New, New Deal? 2009-Present
    The Historical Patterns

    PART III Policy Analyses: Applying the Policy Model

    8 Income Support: Programs and Policies
    Social Change Triggers
    Social Security
    Disability Insurance
    Supplemental Security Income
    Unemployment Insurance Benefits
    Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
    Workers' Compensation
    Earned Income Tax Credit
    General Assistance Programs
    Individual Development Accounts
    The Basic Income Grant
    Social Movements

    9 Jobs and Job Training: Programs and Policies
    The Context for Employment Policy
    Classifying Federal Job Programs
    Employment Training Programs: What Do We Know?
    The Politics of Employment Programs
    Social Movements

    10 Housing: Programs and Policies
    The Context for Housing Policy
    Social Change Triggers
    The Housing Bubble
    Housing Programs
    Social Movements

    11 Health Care: Programs and Policies
    Social Change Triggers
    Social Programs
    The Inadequacies of the U.S. Health Care System
    Social Movements

    12 Food and Hunger: Programs and Policies
    Social Change Triggers
    Food Programs
    Classifying Food Programs: Who, What, to Whom, and at Whose Expense
    Social Movements

    PART IV Conclusions

    13 If You Want to Analyze a Policy...

    Figure Credits

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