How does social policy manage interdependencies? I'm doing an assignment on the role of social policy in addressing poverty. My lecturer always says that humans are interdependent and that social...

How does social policy manage interdependencies?

I'm doing an assignment on the role of social policy in addressing poverty. My lecturer always says that humans are interdependent and that social policy has a key role in managing interdependencies, but I'm not sure what this actually means.

I'm currently writing about the interdependent nature of humans and the power that social cohesion can have in addressing social problems. I feel like this would be a good place to talk about social policy's role in managing these interdependencies, but I have no idea what this actually means! I would really appreciate some help, thank you!

Expert Answers
kjtracy eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are two major types of interdependencies that are impacted by social policy, including the interdependency of individuals and small communities and the interdependencies of nation states. On a smaller scale, social policies such as healthcare and the welfare system play a large role in the degree to which individuals are dependent upon one another and their communities. On a larger scale, the prevalence of globalism governs the international shift towards the greater interdependence of the world's nations. As nations share resources in the interest of implementing new social policies, they become more interdependent. Intergovernmental organizations such as the United Nations are designed to manage many of the aspects of global interdependency. On a local level, charities and local government programs play a large role in managing interdependencies such as education, poverty and health.

As social creatures, humans are inherently interdependent. The degree to which those interdependencies exist varies according to many different factors, including the social policies in place in a given area. Poverty is a significant variable in the relationship between interdependencies and social policy. Research shows that poverty is caused by both cyclical and cumulative interdependencies, which makes it a useful variable to study when trying to understand the role social policy plays in addressing interdependencies. Cyclical interdependencies are those in which individual and community resources are mutually dependent. For example, impoverished individuals are not able to contribute economically to their communities, which in turn makes fewer community resources available for individuals to benefit from.

Cumulative poverty is a natural extension of cyclic poverty. As the cycle of poverty continues in a given community, more economic issues accumulate. From a lack of affordable housing to under-funded school districts and social programs, social policy suffers when the interdependent relationship between individuals and their community is one of poverty.

Economic status is just one of the many interdependencies that exist both between individuals and communities and between one community and another. While social policies are typically put in place to address dysfunctional interdependencies in a community, those same interdependencies can end up limiting the ability of a social policy to work. From healthcare to education programs, social policies require resources for successful implementation.

Further Reading:
thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Let's look at a concrete example here. Imagine that Mary, a sixteen-year-old girl from a relatively poor family, became pregnant after having a relationship with 17-year-old Bob. Let's think about how social policy could affect whether these two young people and their child would prosper or be trapped in a cycle of poverty.

The first interdependency we should consider is the relationship between the two young parents. If they are encouraged to stay together and have access to shared social housing, they will do a better job of raising the child. If both young people can find jobs in their neighborhoods, they are more likely to stay together and provide a secure environment for their child. If the state creates special classes for pregnant teenagers in which they can bond with others in the same situation, they can provide mutual support and babysitting. 

On the other hand, if there are no jobs in the neighborhood and no support structures for the young parents, both may drop out of school, try to earn money by selling drugs or prostitution, Bob may join a gang or end up in jail, and their kid could end up trapped in a cycle of poverty. 

Essential social policies concerning jobs, schools, housing, etc. can have a huge effect on building or ruining communities.