Current Public Administration Magazine (March + April - 2015) - Social Welfare and Its Related Concepts

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Welfare Administration

Social Welfare and Its Related Concepts

A number of terms are used in social welfare with subtle differences in their meanings. Some of the important terms are explained as follows.

Social Service: ‘Helping the helpless’ is social service. It is service rendered to any person on the basis of desire to serve which is inspired by the feeling of helping others. Thus the term ‘social service’ is used to denote help given by a volunteer to an individual or group at the time of need or to enhance the welfare of individual or the community through personal efforts or by collective action. Social service does not require training in social work or skill in professional techniques.

In the Indian context social services are those services, which are provided on an extensive scale to the needy population; they serve to meet the basic needs of the people and include such services as health, education, housing etc. Providing drinking water during summer, helping the blind to cross a road, rescuing people from a house under fire, donate blood etc. are some of the examples of social service.

Social Welfare Services: Thus social services are the services, meant for the normal population. Whereas, social welfare services are designed for the weaker sections of society or services for particular groups of people. The aim of social services on the other hand is to enhance human quality of resources in general. Social welfare services are also enabling services provided to the weaker sections of the community so as to help them to reach the main stream of society. Thus both these services are supplementary and complementary to each other.

Social Security: Social security is the security that society furnishes through provision of appropriate services against violation of certain rights to which its members are exposed. These risks are essentially contingencies of life which the individuals of small means cannot effectively provide for by their own ability or foresight alone or even with the helps of their fellow human beings.

Thus, social security is an effort on the part of the state or the employer or any other related agency, to provide an individual all possible help during periods of physical distress or illness or injury and also at the time of economic distress caused due to reduction or loss of earning on account of sickness, disablement, maternity, unemployment, old age or death of the employee. The work of social security is done through social
assistance, social insurance, health and social welfare services etc. Thus social security is a wider concept of social welfare.

Social Work: ‘Help the helpless to help themselves’. Social work is a method or process based on scientific knowledge and skill to assist the individuals, group and communities, with the view to enhance their social functioning to grow in accordance with their knowledge, capacities and capabilities. Therefore, social welfare has been used as an end and social work, as a means for the provision of social welfare.

Social Welfare: Social welfare is an organised system of social services and institutions, designed to aid individuals and groups, to attain satisfying standards of life and health. Social welfare therefore, aims at providing services to weaker sections of the population who because of various handicaps such as physical, mental, economic and social, are unable to make use of social services provided by society or have been traditionally deprived of these services According to Wayne Vasey (1958) social welfare included two main characteristics:

  • The utilisation of welfare measures to support or strengthen the family as a basic social institution through which needs are met; and
  • The intent to strengthen the individuals’ capacity to cope with their life situation.

The provision of social welfare includes services for children, youth, women, aged, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, other backward classes, minorities, disabled, drug addicts, and economically underprivileged such as destitute and unemployed. Social welfare programmes are, therefore, directed to ameliorate their conditions. Therefore, it requires proper administration.

Social Welfare Administration

Social welfare administration is a process through which social policy is transformed into social services. It involves the administration of public and private agencies. The following definitions are given to elaborate the meaning of social welfare administration. John C. Kidneigh (1950) defines social welfare administration as the “process of transforming social policy into social services… a two way process: (i)… transforming policy into concrete social services and (ii) the use of experience in recommending modification of policy. This definition, of course, encompasses the idea that administration is the process of transforming policies into action programmes.

According to Walter A. Friedlander (1958) ‘administration of social agencies translates the provisions of social legislation of social agencies and the aims of private philanthropy and religious charities into the dynamics of services and benefits for humanity.

According to Arthur Dunham (1962), “administration is the process of supporting or facilitating activities which are necessary and incidental to services by a social agency. Administrative activities range from the determination of function and policies, and executive leadership to routine operations such as keeping records and accounts and carrying on maintenance of services.

Harleigh Tracker (1971) interprets social welfare administration as a “process of working with people in ways that release and relate their energies so that they use all available resources to accomplish the purpose of providing needed community services and programmes.”

The American Council of Social Work Education in its curriculum study, has given a comprehensive definition of social welfare administration. It contains, “Administration is the process of transforming community resources into a programme of community service, in accordance with goals, policies and standards which has been agreed by those involved in the enterprise. It is creative in that it structures roles and relationships in such a way as to alter and enhance the total product. It involves the problem solving process of study, diagnosis and treatment”. Therefore, on the basis of above definitions, we find that it is a process which includes definite knowledge, understanding, principles and ways of interaction. Its main focus is on the suitability and accessibility of social services to the needy. Social work enables the process of administration through guidance, planning, stimulation, organisation, creating structure, coordinating and research. To fulfil the well defined main objectives of administration, policies are suitably amended; programmes are formulated and budget, finance, personnel and selection procedures are made :

Rosemary Sarri (1971) has outlined the activities of social welfare administration as follows:

i) Translation of social mandates into operational policies and goals to guide organisational behaviour;
ii) Design of organisational structures and processes through which the goals can be achieved;
iii) Securing of resources in the form of materials, staff, clients and societal legitimation necessary for goal attainment and organisational survival;
iv) Selection and engineering of the necessary technology;
v) Optimizing organisational behaviour directed towards increased effectiveness and efficiency; and
vi) Evaluation of organisational performance to facilitate systematic and continuous solution of problems.

(Source- Ramesh Bharadwaj ,

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