The Cooperation of Democratic Pluralism and Social Welfare
Citizens always has a misunderstanding that the major role in provision of social welfare is generated by the government, which the public sector is only institution to decide and provide social welfare. However, there are other social sectors in welfare provision, including the private sector, voluntary sector and informal sector. I would like to describe the characteristics and limitation of public sector and these sectors in the following. Besides, cooperating with all the above factors as a result formed a diversified welfare provision, which has been defined as welfare pluralism. After explaining different sectors, strength and weakness of welfare pluralism will be discussed.
The state welfare meaning that the public sector provide service satisfy the public interest, the welfare which most of the population can be received, like education and health care services. The responsibility of state is exercising its legitimate power, to develop and implemented laws and policies by a range of institutions within the government and the policies would be recognised by other states. () It divided into the central government, local government and statutory authorities. The state serve the purpose of formulating the policy and forming the social welfare in the legislation process, funding, providing financial support directly to the service users or funded to the commercial and voluntary factors for the execution of social welfare, coordination and collaboration, regulation or direction with monitoring the quality of the services provided.
However, issues of inefficiency and irresponsiveness have been raised. Problems of inefficiency is due to the bureaucratic system of state, with long waiting time to receive the social welfare and the complicated application of welfare as providing lots of proofs. Since the society is emphasizing the individual rights and responsibilities, the size and the control of the state has been reduced.() In England, the citizens has a debate on whether public expenditure of social welfare should be reduced because the role of service providers of social welfare by voluntary organisations and social enterprises has become important. Therefore, when the role of the state become less important, the social policy made by the state may not applicable to respond the needs of the individuals.
Besides, social welfare is also provided by private sector as a commercial service and products aiming at making profit. For example, the firms provide high quality of elderly care services in private elderly home to earn the profit of the family because there is not enough vacancy to live in the public elderly home. Also, the service user believe that special and deeper care can be provided through privatization of welfare in caring services. () However, there are several incidents happened in the services provided by private elderly home and rehabilitation home. The former superintendent of a home for the mentally disabled has been accused for sexually assaulting a woman under his care. There is also a case of the staff make the elderly bathing in the outdoor. It has been raised the issue of monitoring the service of private caring organizations. The welfare services provide by private firms should be distinguished from other goods. It is suggested that there should be clear separation of structuring principles and spheres of influence between the state public and the private market sector since different steering mechanisms in purchasers and regulators of services are provided by private and non-profit businesses. (Evers, 2005) Since the market mechanism drives the distribution of resources with demand and supply, the needs of minority are being neglected because the firms would not invest in these services for not achieving profit maximization.Apart from the social welfare from state and the market, a special sector of welfare which is called voluntary welfare. Not only do the welfare provided through the legally recognized charity organizations, but also through uncharitable companies like social enterprises. The voluntary sector has three kinds of contribution to social welfares, including organizing activities to building the community relationship, distinguishing between service delivery and campaigning and development (Kendall,2016). However, since the sources of funding in charity organizations is mostly depends on the donation of the society and the large-scale withdrawal of state financial support, they cannot provide high quality of services due to limited resources. Also, voluntary welfare does not necessarily work functional with the state in the dominant policy discourse because the welfare spending is restricted due to the economy especially when the state faced excessive bureaucracy, inflexibility in policy implementation, and undue intervention and ‘interference’. For example, China Red Cross, a charitable organization has been found corruption that the staff of the organization has misuse the fundraising for privately use.The last part of the social welfare is the informal sector, referring to the unpaid service provided by family members, relatives, friends and neighbours for the caring the disabled, elderly or the one who have mental disorder, defined as “unpaid care’ looking after family. () It is the major source of care in the UK, because the society lack of providing service for long-term physical or mental ill health patients and the ageing population. However, the family encountered a few of problems. The caregiver affords heavy pressure from taking care of the needy when spending large proportion of time in the care, especially in taking care of mental health patients, lacking professional help may contribute emotional disturbance to the caregiver. Cases of the suicidal of caregiver and murder to the patients raised a huge awareness of lacking medical services as a social welfare provide by state. Also, the caregiver needs to sacrifice their job and the time with friends which bring economic and social pressure to them.
With the cooperation of the above fourth factors, the social welfare can function diversely which it called welfare pluralism or mixed economy of welfare. The welfare pluralism can use as a means for enabling a greater range of management decisions to permit more direct corporate engagement in the diverse goals of various stakeholders. (Mitchell, Weaver, Agle, Bailey & Carlson, 2016). The diversity of service can be provided through different sectors to satisfy different needs. People can choose what they prefer with a lot of option. Different sectors can exercise either partial or full responsibility for the financing and the delivery of various social provi¬sions. () The well-being of the citizens can be enhanced through the community development of the voluntary sector and convenient access to public service with the cooperation of planning and delivery service. However, the raise of welfare pluralism caused decentralization and privatization. Decentralization involves the increasing use of tax expenditures, vouchers for housing, and credit subsidies (Gilbert & Gilbert, 1989) linked to privatization of social welfare delivery, as the individual recipients of cash, tax expenditures, vouchers, and credit subsidies are free to purchase the goods and services they require in the private sector. Also, the effects of privatization are doubted since private agencies may not be more efficient and effective vehicles for the delivery of social welfare benefits when comparing with the state. Besides, when the public funding put large proportions of private sector than voluntary sector, the privatization of services scarifies the rights and the needs of the poor, because voluntary sector like community-based organizations depends on public funding for social welfare provisions.
In conclusion, the combination of public sector, private sector, voluntary sector and informal sector as welfare pluralism has just developed in early times. Improvements should be done by the cooperation of the factors through the legislative process of the state, balancing the demand and supply of market needs and the community support for the voluntary sector and informal sector.
When we are forming and decide what to formulate in social policy, power is given to the one who make the decision.Making an improvement in human welfare, developing services and enhancing the power of the political leader, government department or minister responsible for the policy are the major roles of the social policy. () However, it is hard to balance the two roles with the same level of importance so there are different models of decision making. Several discussion are arguing how to distribute the sources and nature of that power to different political institutions included in the policy making. In the major models, some are support with democratic pluralism aims to diffuse power to different groups while some has the idea of elitism for giving dominating power to elite to rule the social policy.
Democratic pluralism combined the value of democracy and pluralism which considering the diversified opinions of different stakeholders in the society before making policy, to promote the idea of democracy. Pluralism believed that the social world is multiple, diverse and evolving to have the development of an acceptance of varied values, cultures, and ways of life which contrast to the one who attempts to represent them as absolute power (Schlosberg, 2008). However, it is hard to define democracy in a few words since there are three kinds of democracy model in promoting the pluralism, including liberal pluralists, deliberative democrats and radical pluralist. Liberal pluralists emphasizing individual freedom, personal development, dispersion of power and self government. (Escobar,2017) They made decision by voting in parliamentary elections to express the individual preference in choosing between competitive interest groups with the idea of representative democracy. In deliberative democrats, they tried to improve public deliberation which suggested that reconcile disagreements and the fact of pluralism through the idea of a rational-critical public sphere.(Karppinen,2013) They engaged collective activity with collaboration of different constituents to participate in the budgeting discussion and represent their interest. For example, public forum through the media like TV broadcast would be held for sharing the opinions from different social institutions and groups. Lastly, radical pluralist focus on the diffusion of power relations and hegemonic structures. They are not going to get the consensus or the common ideas but conflicting between the political opinions in the public space. For example, the citizen would hold assemblies, rallys and juries by themselves to debate. It can be concluded that democratic pluralism has diffused political power, purposed through parliamentary election and discussing interests of their constituents in the decision-making processes. In this model, democratic process taking place indifferent policies with maintaining the human dignity, autonomy of religion, the equity and equality of respecting the freedom in different views. The strength of democratic pluralism is to raise the concern of new social movements and improve the politicization of socio cultura lspaces heretofore ignored or excluded by mainstream democratic regimes (McGraw-HillEducation, 2013). However, when there is extremely diverse opinions in different orientations of political parties or individuals, lacking of authority may lead to high cost to respond and balance the need and rights of each of the interest groups involved to reduce the conflicts in the decision. Therefore, the government should act as an active role on constantly to demands from social groups and economic influences that surround the issues.(Blakemore, 2007).
By contrast, elitism decentralize the power of decision into the minority groups but not the diffusion of power in democratic pluralism. It can be seen, from a certain point of view, as people who are believed to important who ‘vest political power in their incumbents’ (Van Loon, Whittington, 1981). From a sociological point of view, elitism deals with class structures. Marx describes these class structures and what makes certain individuals ‘High Class’ or ‘important’: ‘The separation of ownership from the management and control of industry’ (McGraw-Hill Education, 2013). later). The idea that elites shape public opinion applies to all elites as well with the fact that the majority of Canadians have negative attitudes toward political elites. They have dominating power in the economic, political and military sectors, which including the professionals elite occupying key positions in government, business corporations and the military ( C. Wright Wills,1956) Therefore, elites has the power of formulate the policy mostly by their self -interest. ()The supporters of elitism believe that the decision of social policy can be structural since knowledgeable elites are more rational to rule the society. They also believes that the principal–agent relationship can be enhanced for solving the problem of critical deficiency in many stakeholders because broader involvement of constituencies can serve to enhance the stakeholder process . However, the raise of elitism lead to the concerns of equity when there are difficulties in specifying the mechanisms by which power is given and the techniques used. () Although health policy in UK in health service is favoured ordinary citizens ,elites mostly put ‘class interests’ and ‘economic forces’ as the only kinds of determining agent in decision making with narrowing of public life. ( Degeling and Colebatch, 1984). For example, in the competitive exam in admitting into university, students who are studying in traditional popular and self-financed school have more resources to become elites since the uneven distribution of resources in school especially in higher education institutions. Power corruption is another issue of dominated elites since their decision would violate the relationship between the community. In this concern, elites and non-elites has a huge conflict with the social policy benefit mostly the markets while political elites became inherently suspicious. Research find that opposition of the elitism is due to the narrowing of public life and concerns about democratic legitimacy is raised, especially considering the lack of formal mechanisms to ensure community accountability (Wallington, Lawrence, and Loechel, ). Also, the legitimacy to higher authorities, and thus prioritized board members with professional knowledge, political power and managerial authority.
In conclusion, democratic pluralism promotes the equity of power to distribute for different groups of people for their freedom to express their opinions which enhance the community relationships and the fairness for decision making in social policy. However, elitism is decentralizing the power into the professional which neglect the needs of community but focusing on the self interest like profit maximization in the market. Many citizen is opposing the elitism because they also contribute the society as same as the elite so it is unfair to decentralize the power to minority groups, the elites.
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