What's the difference between social policy and public policy?

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readerofbooks's profile pic

readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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There are different ways to look and answer this question. Roughly speaking, public policy is what the government does when it affects people, whether ill or positive. Social policy usually means the things the government does to help people. There can be quite a bit of overlap and when the government is working well, the overlap will be greater. One hopes that the government will help people!

There is another way to look at it though. When talking about social policy, when has to ask what group of people are in view. Are the poor in view? Is a certain race in view? Is a certain area in view? So, social policy can also be directed to a specific group.

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Social policy is one subset of public policy.  So all social policy is public policy, but not all public policy is social policy.

The term "social policy" is typically used to refer to policies that have to do with people's welfare.  These would include policies affecting public health, education, criminal justice, and other such things.

Public policy, on the other hand, can refer to any policy taken by the government.  Public policy that would not typically be seen as social policy would include such things as environmental policy or tax policy or the space program.  Of course these things affect people's welfare, but they are not so directly connected to it.

khurramali266's profile pic

khurramali266 | eNotes Newbie

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Social policy is a deliberate intervention by the government or state to re distribute resources among the citizens to attain welfare objectives. Social policy is influence by economic policy as economic development is the eligibility for the social development. Major areas of social policy are:- Social security, healthcare, social care, housing etc.

Public policy is the relationship of government units to its environment. public policy are the government decision actually the result of activities which the government undertakes in perused of certain goals and objectives. it is the outcome of government collective action.