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Social Welfare

            Social welfare is an encompassing and imprecise term, but most often it is defined in terms of organized activities or some other factor that suggests procedure and programs to answer to identified social problems or to ameliorate the well-being of those at risk. To define social welfare in terms of programs or problems alone, however, is to miss a larger and more enduring element. Chatterjee (1985) observed that social welfare is concerned with the right order of relationships in society; that is, it is some ideal of the way in which some society works and fits together to form a suitable place for human habitation and development. From a different perspective, Gilbert (1974) referred to social welfare as establishing the rules of the game: with the game being the system of distributing valued resources, such as money; jobs; housing; and educational, health, and social services. Both Chatterjee and Gilbert have some vision of the good society. Social welfare, then, is perhaps best understood as an ideology, that ideology being one of a respectable society that provides opportunities for work and human meaning, provides reasonable security from want and assault, promotes fairness and evaluation based on individual merit, and is economically efficient and stable. In his book, Welfare State, Chatterjee mentioned that, "ideology directs humans" relationship with nature, artifacts, and time. It is applicable to human activities in the family, in work, in governance, and in the realm of spirituality. Built into it are certain perceptions about human needs and human values. In a way, each ideological system is an effort to balance human needs and attempts to respond to them." This ideology of social welfare is based on the assumption that human society can be organized and governed to produce and provide these things, and because it is viable to do so, the state has a moral obligation to bring it to fruition.

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