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Social Welfare Policy and Services


Institutionalism is the study of the origins, implications, and possibility of improving the functionality of institutions. Institutionalism introduces the perception that institutions, which may be political, social or economic, provide a valuable platform for human interaction. New institutionalism particularly underscores the interplay between the institutions and the society; it aims at developing a sociological view of institutions. One of the principal assumptions is that institutions exist within larger institutions, commonly referred to as the institutional environment. Institutions must ensure that integrity and legitimacy prevail in their operations besides being sensitive to the needs of the broader environment for them to survive. Institutions exist in a space where the interests of various players, including the individual, government, and the social welfare, collide. Consequently, each of the players must find a way to accommodate the demands of the other if the institutions will co-exist. It is important to note that social the society is always at the center of all human undertakings, which is the reason private and government institutions should align their interests with social welfare. By developing such alignments, the larger environment is able to move towards the achievement of shared goals, which are mainly of social interests besides improving the interaction between the institutions and the humans (Dolgoff& Feldstein, 2013).

For example, businesses, the government, and the society exist in an environment within which each of the institutions has specific interests. However, the interest of the society has precedence over those of the government and businesses and it is only by aligning their interest with the needs of the society that the larger environment will function efficiently.


Residualism is a social welfare approaches that emphasis on the exhaustion of private resources before governmental involvement in solving social problems. Residualists believe that the government should not be the first to intervene but should be the last resort. Residualism maintains that the society should employ traditional means of accessing daily needs, and it is only after failure that the government may satisfy the wants in minimal amounts. Consequently, individuals have to respond to their needs; if they fail, the family and voluntary sectors should be the first alternative. Residualism assumes that social welfare should offer and benefits to individuals who have already fallen. Second, residualism assumes that social welfare should only be temporary and for emergency purposes. Third, the principles of individualism, private solutions, and localism always offer a better alternative compared to social welfare when dealing with social issues.

Barusch (2015) demonstrates that the Poor Laws, originally used in the England, emerged as a means to provide aid to members of the society who lacked the capacity to earn a living, especially the seniors and the physically challenged.As explained by residualism, the laws only provided social to the persons who could not obtain help from private sources, which made them a burden to the society. Even so, other physically fit persons that contested for help had to work for a given number of hours every day to obtain assistance, usually in form of housing. It is possible to conclude that the Poor Laws had a high degree of residualism based on the fact that social welfare was the last resort.


Universalism is a system that entails the provision of social welfare to every individual through both private and public institutions with less emphasis on individualism and other subsidies. The system encourages the creation of universal programs that intend to provide services freely to all through government funding. Under universalism, institutions should deliver social services equitably. Based on the fact that universalism has the objective of providing equitable services, it does not discriminate on the basis of gender, age, ethnicity, religion or social class.

Universalism assumes that social welfare is different from other services in the market and, as a result, should be treated as so. Social welfare should also have the foundations of social integration, cohesion, and collectivity besides being subject to the emergence of need. According to universalism, the welfare of the individual should also be a responsibility of the society. Also, there is no limit to the provision of social welfare as long as there is demand.

Security is a good example of universalism based on the fact that it aims at providing services to the population without discrimination. Also, the government finances state or national security, thus, making it free for everyone within the territorial boundaries. The security issues of every individual become a concern for the government and the surrounding community; there are no limits on its provision.


Selectivity involves the provision of welfare on the selective basis. It entails the use of test means to determine the eligibility of the individual to receive the welfare benefits, and the amount of such benefits that he/she deserves, usually based on the income and financial status. Selectivity assumes that social welfare provides an opportunity for equity as it aims at the collection of money through taxes from the entire population and redistributing among the poor people. The system also assumes that social welfare products are like any other goods and services in the market and, therefore, the intended beneficiaries must consider the market procedures in acquisition. There must also be the prioritization of the costs of production in social welfare delivery.

Categoricalism is the provision of social welfare through test means that identifies the deserving needy and the undeserving needy persons. The approach is popular for intervention in matters that pose a social risk and extreme hardship conditions such as old age, illnesses, injuries, unemployment, and the death of the family’s breadwinner among others. The approach assumes that the other needy persons live in poverty because of their laziness and recklessness.

Both selectivity and categoricalism apply the test means to identify the individuals that deserve social welfare. The two also collect money from the entire population and redistribute among those who deserve more attention. The principal difference is that categoricalism separates the deserving needy from the needy population. The Poor Laws selectively redistributed income, from tax collection to the poor through the provision of the most basic daily needs. However, only the extremely needy category received free welfare while the other undeserving needy had to work for several hours every day to receive their benefits, thus, categorical.


Human Dignity

Human dignity is the first notion of human rights as provided by Article 1 that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights (UN, 1948).” The notion may have its origin from the Judeo-Christian traditions and the Bible, as written in the Genesis that God created man in His Image. The Article also suggests that human should act towards each other in the spirit of brotherhood.

Slavery is one of the major violations of human dignity in the history of the United States against the Black minorities. During the slavery era, the Blacks, acquired through slave trade, faced animal treatment as they worked long hours, with not pay. The White failed to recognize that they too were human beings with equal rights besides slow advancements in civilization, thus, disregarding their dignity.


The second notion of human rights is nondiscrimination based on the fact that every human being deserves humane treatment. Every person has equal rights and therefore, treatment should be “without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status,” as stipulated by Article 2 (UN, 1948).

According to Human Rights Watch (2013), the American criminal justice system shows a high level of racial discrimination. While the drug use between the Blacks, Whites, and Latinos is almost equal, Black Americans are more likely to be arrested, detained and imprisoned for drug-related cases. The Blacks constitute up to 44 percent of the incarcerated individuals on drug related cases even when they only make up 13 percent of the US population. Clearly, the system violates the nondiscrimination notion of human rights by color.

Civil and Political Rights

Civil and political rights constitute the third notion of human rights that entails the individual’s power to pursue the course of human dignity free from discrimination and political oppression from others. Articles 3 – 21 provide a layout of the civil and political rights. The right to marry is fundamental for all individuals, including the LGBT. Marriage provides a wide range of protection for the married couple as well as their children and, therefore, denying a marriage certificate is in violation of multiple civil rights. Recently, a Kentucky courthouse clerk denied gay couples their marriage certificates on different occasions even after the Supreme Court issued an order (Felton, 2015). By denying the certificates, the clerk violates their right to inherit property after the death of a spouse, public housing, and immigration, among others.

Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights

The fourth core notion of human rights is the economic, social and cultural rights that require the government’s intervention in the provision of crucial necessities that aid sustain human dignity. The rights are part of Articles 22 to 27 that place emphasis on healthcare, food, clothing, security, education, employment, and other social services. Article 27 stipulates the right of every individual to take part in cultural activities as well as the right to own their scientific, artistic or literary work that he/she is the author.

According to the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality (2015), a there is a significant difference between the mortality rate of the rich and poor members of the society based on the fact there is inequitable access to healthcare and housing. The poor, mainly the Black Americans, disabled, and veterans are at the highest risk of lacking shelter and healthcare, as well as quality education. The poor encounter various barriers in accessing healthcare compared to the general population in the same administrative region.



Solidarity is the fifth and last crucial notion of human rights contained in Articles 28 to 30. Although the conceptualization of the rights is not conclusive, they have an association with the inefficiencies in sovereignty on global matters. The notion intends to address issues related to war, pollution, disasters, and self-determination the articles call for intergovernmental collaboration in dealing with the identified issues among others. Even so, the individual has a responsibility to the society he/she is a part.

In March 2015, the Governor for Indiana signed a religious freedom law that allowed individuals and businesses to decline providing services to the gay people (Fox Business, 2015). Consequently, various businesses, especially hotels, continue to reject the gay from accessing essential services such as wedding catering among others. According to Article 29 (2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is important to ensure that one does not violate the rights of other person’s rights in the exercise of his/hers. The action by businesses may be legally justified but it does not encourage the notion of solidarity.


Title I focus on the grants to the States for old-age assistance where the federal government had the duty to disburse an amount that could enable each State support the elderly members of the society. The state had to ensure that the assistance was accessible to all elderly people in all administrative subdivisions besides granting fair hearing for individuals contending for assistance. It was the duty of the state board to prepare and verify reports concerning the assistance accorded to the subjects. For an individual to acquire the assistance, he/she had to be over 65 years old (Stern &Axinn, 2012).

Title II entailed the creation of a federal old-age benefits reserve account to hold sufficient funds for later appropriation to the states as determined by the Secretary of the Budget. The qualified beneficiaries were to receive monthly installments until their death, but with recognition of their previous earnings.

Title III introduced the compensation to states to handle issues concerning unemployment in the society. The appropriation of monies was to consider the population, approximated numbers of unemployed people, and other factors that the State Board found to be significant. Only deserving individuals were to receive the compensation through and only through public offices. The Board also had the responsibility to prepare and verify reports.

Title IV stipulated the manner through which the federal and state governments were to provide support for the dependent children. First, every state had to create a board for the function before certification and appropriation on a quarterly basis. Unlike other titles that required the board to note the requirements for appropriations, the board did not have the mandate to do so for Title IV (Stern &Axinn, 2012).

Title V provided the conditions for maternal and child welfare grants that consisted of parts like maternal and child health services, services for physically challenged children, child welfare services, vocational rehabilitation, and administration. The segment aimed at providing assistance to the individuals living with critical economic constraints, especially in the rural areas, by ensuring that they receive quality healthcare in a bid to reduce the disparity in healthcare (Stern &Axinn, 2012).

Title VII established the Social Security Board that was to compose of three presidential appointees through the advice and consent of the Senate. The conditions did not allow more than two members to be from the same party or engage in any other form of employment during the six-year term in office. Besides making reports on expenditure and progress, the board had the duty to advice on the best approaches to promote the social agenda.


The Social Security Act dictates that there should not be any form of discrimination in the provision of social services on the basis of the individual’s sexuality, gender, race, or any other considerations provided that the individual meets the requirements. Pregnant women are the top priority in the Act with regard to the financial assistance provided for their use. The Act also entails the issues concerning children with disabilities and provides financial assistance for the correction and treatment of their conditions. Issues concerning unemployment compensation and taxation may apply to the single adults without children although it is a matter dependent on the regulations of the State Board. However, there are social welfare laws relating to the medically ill individuals.


Title I is one of the most significant parts of the Social Security Act selected by Stern and Axinn (2012) as it includes sensitive information about the old-age benefits for the concerned persons. The Title provides the conditions that individuals must comply in order to receive social benefits; it stipulates that persons who had higher income during their employment days receive lower pay than those who earned less. The provisions are both similar and different to the Poor Laws. Like the Poor Laws, the Title focuses on the economically impotent individuals who may only get help from the government; in addition, it identifies the people who need more help than others. However, the Title does not marginalize the individuals like the Poor Law nor does it discriminate between the deserving and undeserving people.



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