Sociology Paper 2: Power Pt 2 (Defining the Welfare State (Welfare servers…
Sociology Paper 2: Power Pt 2
Defining the Welfare State
Through the NHS - services such as GPs, hospitals and dentists are provided, funded by central government using income from national taxation
National Insurance (NI) benefits (e.g. state retirement pension) are contributory benefits, to qualify for them claimants must have paid sufficient contributions into the NI scheme. Many non-contributory benefits (such as Income Support) are designed for people in financial need who do not qualify for NI benefits
Provides services related to health, education, housing and welfare benefits. It also provides social services such as child protection
Some benefits are means tested - determines whether a person needs the financial help offered by the benefits in question. to receive means tested benefits - an individual/family's income must fall below a certain level. An advantage of this is that resources can be targeted at those in need.
There are problems with means-testing; the claims process can be complicated and intrusive and this discourages people from claiming benefits to which they are entitled, they may label and stigmatise claimants, they may discourage people from saving, because savings might disqualify them from receiving benefits, the poverty trap - means tests may trap people in poverty when an increase from employment reduces the benefits to which they are entitled by more than their increase in their earnings.
Most benefits are selective or targeted at people in greatest need on the basis of a means test
Welfare servers are also provided:
Privately - through profit-making businesses such as private nursing homes
Via voluntary (non-statutory) sector organisations such as Barnardo's
Informally - through families friends and neighbours
Government attempts to tackle social problems: - social problems - issues many people believe that something should be done about and are seen as damaging to society, Social policies - actions or reforms that bodies such as governments or local authorities put into place to tackle particular social problems or issues in fields such as education, welfare and criminal justice. Each particular political party has its own ideas about and policies to deal with particular social problems
Discrimination: when people are treated differently and less favourably, because of their gender, ethnicity or age
Governments have tried to tackle discrimination by introducing new equality and anti-discrimination legislation - it is now unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of gender. age. race. religion, belief, disability or sexual orientation
Britain's ageing population - means that older people are an important focus of social policy. Age discrimination in the labour market is a key social policy issue affecting older people today. In 2006 the government introduced regulations against age discrimination.
Tackling unemployment and poverty
Unemployment is seen as social problem for:
Their children = likely to do less well at school and to obtain secure well-paid employment
Communities with high levels of unemployment - are often more affected by crime, anti-social behaviour and family breakdown than other communities
The unemployed people themselves = linked to poverty and ill health
Governments have tried to address unemployment through welfare-to-work policies. Such programmes aim to:
Increase job opportunities - e.g. job creation schemes
Improve claimants' skills and motivation - providing education, training and counselling
Encourage claimants to take up paid employment by increasing the benefits paid to those working (e.g. Tax credits).
One way governments have tried to reduce the number of people in poverty is through state provision of financial support through means-tested benefits
Power relationships operate in everyday situations when there are inequalities in power between individuals and groups :
Pupils and Teachers - Teachers exercise authority over pupils based on their position within the school's authority structure, some teachers exercise authority based on their charisma
Members of the public and the police - The police force operates as an agency of social control on behalf of the state and is responsible for enforcing the law. Police officers exercise power based on their position within the police force.
Children, parents or guardians - Parents exercise power over their children when they influence, control or constrain their behaviour
Coercive power = Involves the threat or use of force, we obey an individual or group because we feel we have no choice
Authority = is exercised over us when we willingly obey someone because we think it is the right thing to do - in this case force is unnecessary