Social Policy Definition
"Chosen courses of action within unique contexts with goals of preventing and addressing social problems ." (O'Connor & Netting, 2011)
Law- a binding custom or practice of a community a rule of conduct or action prescribed or formally recognized as binding or enforced by a controlling authority (Merriam-Webster, 2012)
Statute- a law enacted by the legislative branch of a government. (Merriam-Webster, 2012)
Regulation- rule or order issued by an executive authority or agency of a government and having the force of law (Merriam-Webster, 2012)
All legislation/law starts as idea or concept. These laws are often influenced by policymakers.
Policy is an outcome of a law.
The policy process is affected by rules and regulations, budget concerns, court rulings, and standards. (O'Connor & Netting, 2011)
Policies assist with the creation of social programs like TANF and help legislators decide when a new bill should be amended/introduced to Congress.
Policies tend to be created as the result or after-effect of a social problem; they are often a reactionary approach rather than preventative.
When policy is challenged it may be brought into the court system. For example, if a person claims a policy is unconstitional the challenge of the policy may eventually make its way to the Supreme Court.
Laws say what need to be done - think in terms out outcomes. Regulations specify how the laws get carried out.
Federal law will always take precendence over state law, since state law can not conflict with federal law. However, some federal law may be written so broadly that states have leeway to enact their own regulations in order to implement exactly how the federal law is carried out.
There are a vast range of Social Welfare Programs that exist in the United States.
A few examples are:
Also check out USA.GOV to search for specific government-related sites.
Examples of Laws Governing Social Policy
Adoption and Safe Families Act (1997) PL 105-89
Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) (1974) PL 93-247
CAPTA Reauthorization Act (2010) PL 111-320
Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) PL 101-336
ADA Ammendments Act (2008) PL 110-325
Higher Education Act (1965) PL 89-329
Higher Education Opportunity Act (2008) PL 110-315
Food Stamp Act (1964) PL 88-525
Agriculture and Consumer Protection Act (1973) PL 93-86
Hunger Prevention Act (1988) PL 100-435
Community Mental Health Act (1963)
Social Security Act (1935) PL 74-271
Voting Rights Act (1965)
Children Nutrition Act (1966)
Child Nutrition Act (2010)
Forms of Social Policy
(Retrieved from O'Connor & Netting, 2011, pp. 14-15; Jansson, 2008, pp. 12-14)
Rules and Regulations
Formal or Written Policies
Informal Policies or Unwritten
Legal Cases can also affect policy.
To find out more about Supreme Court cases use these databases: