The Relationship Between Social Policy and Social Work

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2009

22 Pages, Grade: 1,0


Table of contents

1. Introduction 2

2. What is Social Work? 3

2.1 The tasks and objectives 3

2.2 The areas of work 4

3. What is social policy? 5

3.1 A definition 5

3.2 Social policy institutions 6

4. Social Work and Social Policy 7

4.1 The foundations of social policy and social work 7

4.2 The historical development up to 1945 8

4.3 Developments after 1945 10

5. The "activating" welfare state today 12

5.1 Individual or general help? 12

5.2 The "activation" of social work 13

5.3 "Educational" social work 14

6. Child and youth welfare 16

6.1 The institutions 16

6.2 The tasks 17

6.3 An institution of education? 18

7. Conclusion 19

Bibliography 21

1. Introduction

"The large number of policy areas in which the welfare state is active makes it clear that social policy in Germany is comprehensive. The measures, services and institutions of social policy influence the living conditions of all citizens [...]. In Germany, the orientation towards social principles of action has constitutional status. The essence of Article 20(1) of the Basic Law reads: "The Federal Republic is a democratic and social federal state." "1

The Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany already refers to the social orientation of the country. Here, the social is just as important as the observance of the democratic basic order. Germany is a welfare state.

The Federal Government is also obliged to publish a social report2, in which it presents the respective scope and importance of its social policy achievements. It is precisely here that the services, measures and plans of the Federal Government are presented. The multitude of areas that are affected and influenced by social policy is diverse and unmistakable. It is not possible for anyone to escape the effect of social policy. From birth, the citizens of the Federal Republic of Germany are subject to the provisions and institutions of social policy. For example, social policy has an impact on health, family and labour policy, among other things. This branching can already be clearly seen in the ministries. Although there is the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, social policy also has its spheres of influence in the areas of the Ministry of Family Affairs, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Finance.

The present work attempts to clarify which institutions are involved in the implementation of the social policy of the Federal Republic. Social work should be mentioned as an instrument of social policy. But what is social work? To what extent is social work an instrument of politics or is it not only an executive element, but itself an important part of politics? Which areas of social policy are influenced by social work and to what extent does social work influence social policy? It is important to consider the relationship between these two games. Is it subject to change over the years or is there a constant scheme of action and orientation? In the following, social work will be examined in more detail using the concrete example of child and youth welfare, which is a focus of social work. Here, the focus of the work should not be on the exact representation of the working methods, the various institutions and the problems of social work, but rather on the relationship to social policy.

2. What is Social Work?

Before the relationship between social work and social policy is presented, it is necessary to take a closer look at and explain the concepts of social work and social policy.

2.1 The tasks and objectives

Social work is increasingly referred to the practical part of socio-pedagogical disciplines when places of work and institutions of pedagogy are mentioned and considered. In addition to social pedagogy, it also includes areas of knowledge in medicine, psychology, law, sociology and economics. However, in recent years there has been a change in the designations, so that it is now difficult to differentiate between social pedagogy and social work, or both terms are used equivalently. Nevertheless, the term social pedagogy is used in the specific case for the scientific discipline, the term social work is used in connection with the practical work of social pedagogy. As a result, social work has become a practical concept that includes both social pedagogy and social work. This term has also changed into a scientific discipline designation, the "science of social work", whereby the term "social work" has already established itself in the USA early in the 20th century and has become a scientific discipline.3

The goals and tasks of social work are the processing and solution of social problems, both specific individual cases and general social problems.4 Ultimately, social work finds its place where it is necessary to secure the existence of a person, or to help people with serious existential problems and to eliminate any difficulties that arise. The basic prerequisite here is the assumption that an (adult) person is able to secure and shape his existence alone, or with the help and support of the family.5 There are different interpretations of a secure existence. What is meant here is the safeguarding of financial, professional, health and family existence. This series is to be continued arbitrarily, since social work, in contrast to the general and general approach of social policy, always considers, treats and tries to solve individual and unique problems and grievances to a certain extent.

2.2 The areas of work

A wide variety of institutions are regarded as areas of work for the realization of the goal of social work. Thus, in addition to the municipal youth and social welfare offices, the most diverse independent providers of youth and social assistance, as well as the various welfare associations are part of and object of social work.6

In the case of social work providers, a distinction must be made between public and private ones, whereby there are also commercial institutions that also carry out social work tasks but finance them independently. Which institution provides and offers which services is structured and organized in a variety of ways. However, it should be noted that the core of the tasks of social work, the welfare and social benefits of child and youth welfare as well as social assistance, is borne by public institutions at federal and municipal level. Here, the social legislation regulates exactly the responsibilities and powers of the state, the districts and the municipalities among themselves.7

In addition to the state organizations, authorities and administrations, there are also free carriers. These fall within the framework of the principle of subsidiarity8 under the supervision of the state institutions but work independently and are supported by them in their work, mostly financially. Among others, the Arbeiterwohlfahrt (AWO) and the German Red Cross (DRK) are to be mentioned here. The independent sponsors take on a wide variety of social work tasks. For example, the above-mentioned institutions take care of the care and support of the elderly.9

The tasks and fields of work of social work span the entire spectrum of a human life. Already after birth, the first social security systems of the state take effect, for example since 2008 the parental allowance and the care in day care centers. Likewise, in addition to childhood, adolescence and later adulthood is an important area of social work, with child and youth welfare being a major area of social work.10 Especially in the important periods of personality development, the possibilities of social security, or the possibility of being able to make use of social benefits, play an important role. In addition to the person himself, his living environment is also part of social work. Thus, the family and partnership is also part of the social support areas. There are numerous areas in which social work intervenes, for example the counselling and care of young families by ProFamilia. This list can be extended to all areas of human life where problems and crises can arise. At the heart of today's social work in the "activating" welfare state is in particular the establishment and restoration of the employment of citizens.11.

Another possibility of describing the fields of social work is, in addition to the classification according to the stages of life, the specific classification according to the problems of the clients. At this point, it is not divided according to the different age groups, but different problem classifications are needed. These include, for example, social work with migrants, addiction prevention or working with the mentally ill.12

3. What is social policy?

3.1 A definition

The concept of politics can be traced back to the Greek concepts of πολιτικας and πολιτικη τεχνη. The term "politikas" in the polis comes from matters that affect the people. The term "politike techne" refers to the "art of leadership", i.e. to the technology and management of public affairs.


1 Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales (Ed.): Sozialbericht 2009. Bonn 2009. p. 4.

2 The Social Report has been prepared periodically since the 1990s every three or four years during a legislative period and published on behalf of the Federal Government.

3 cf. Hamburger, Franz: Einführung in die Sozialpädagogik. Stuttgart 2008. p. 17-21. and Thole, Werner: Soziale Arbeit als Profession und Disziplin. Das sozialpädagogische Projekt in Praxis, Theorie, Forschung und Ausbildung – Versuch einer Standortbestimmung. In: Thole, Werner (Ed.): Grundriss Soziale Arbeit. Ein einführendes Handbuch. Opladen 2002. p. 14.

4 cf. Herrmann, Cora / Stövesand, Sabine: Zur (Re-)Politisierung Sozialer Arbeit – Plädoyer für eine reflexive und koordinierte „Unfügsamkeit“. In: Kessl, Fabian / Otto, Hans-Uwe (Ed.): Soziale Arbeit ohne Wohlfahrtsstaat? Zeitdiagnosen, Problematisierungen und Perspektiven. München 2009. p. 192f.

5 cf. Olk, Thomas: Soziale Arbeit und Sozialpolitik. Notizen zu einem ambivalenten Verhältnis. In: Bielefelder Arbeitsgruppe 8 (Ed.): Soziale Arbeit und Gesellschaft. Wiesbaden 2008. p. 288.

6 cf. Kaufmann, Franz-Xaver: Zum Verhältnis von Sozialarbeit und Sozialpolitik. In: Otto, Hans-Uwe / Schneider, Siegfried (Ed.): Gesellschaftliche Perspektiven der Sozialarbeit. Erster Halbband. Kritische Texte zur Sozialarbeit und Sozialpädagogik. Neuwied 1973. p. 88.

7 cf. Bettmer, Franz: Die öffentlichen Träger der Sozialen Arbeit. In: Thole, Werner (Ed.): Grundriss Soziale Arbeit. Ein einführendes Handbuch. Opladen 2002. p. 431-448.

8 The principle of subsidiarity states that society should not take on the tasks that a smaller group can handle on its own. In this case, the superordinate group only intervenes in a complementary or supportive manner. This principle continues in the context of social work except for the clients with the so-called "help for self-help" principle.

9 cf. Bauer, Rudolph: Freie Träger. In: Thole, Werner (Ed.): Grundriss Soziale Arbeit. Ein einführendes Handbuch. Opladen 2002. p. 449-464.

10 See Chapter 5 of this paper on child and youth welfare.

11 See Chapter 4 of this paper.

12 cf. Hamburger 2008. p. 160-172.

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The Relationship Between Social Policy and Social Work
Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
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relationship, between, social, policy, work
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Maik Ruhnau (Author), 2009, The Relationship Between Social Policy and Social Work, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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