|This is what social policy really entails.|
I digress - This story for me is a justification - if you know me and my moral compass well enough, you'll understand why quite quickly. I also think that sharing this story is timely for many reasons, including, but not limited to: serious international terror threats, the Ebola crisis in Western Africa, the ending of the NATO summit, just to name a few.
On a terribly stormy Friday evening at the Hyppo, a small, soaking wet family, came in seeking refuge from the ferocious Florida rain. The father commented on the book I'd left lying on the counter to serve them - "The Global Politics of HIV/AIDS." He said "Sad subject," and asked, "Why are you reading that?" I told him that it was summer reading for my master's program. His wife asked what I'd be studying...
Me: "I will be studying for my Masters in Social Policy at the London School of Economics." (And my lovely co-worker, and friend, Tia, proudly smiled in support!)
Her: "Seriously? What even is social policy?"
Me, swallowing throat lump full of rage: "Ever heard of the Affordable Care Act?"
She said yes and I gave a small sigh in relief, but I still didn't think that she fully understood so I continued to decimate her intelligence. And now I'm aiming to do the same for the rest of the world, or at least for those who can't form a general idea from the name "social policy." I told her that a country's social policy is a reflection of its development goals. In the US, the best and most current example is the Affordable Care Act - it's a law that has the end goal of benefiting American society by improving access to health care.
Health is just one area of social policy - and health just so happens to be the area that I'm most interested in. Social policies may be crafted to deal with urbanization, education, gender equality, poverty, population control, and even the environment. Social policy may be written by international organizations, like the World Bank or the UN, national governments, or local governments. And then, it may be implemented by some, or all of those same actors. The success of a piece of social policy is determined by the impact that it has on the people. Of course, it's difficult to measure this impact without being in the field (which is one of my goals - that I'll get to travel to see what works and what doesn't). But so long as a piece of legislation has in mind the best interests of the people who are the worst off, then it's considered social policy.
I've said this before - there is a lot of ignorance in America, especially when it comes to understanding how other human beings live in places like Cambodia or Lesotho. (Speaking of ignorance, place those two countries on a map, ya'll!) The people who live in such places aren't just statistics or pictures on subway posters. They're people too. And at the very least, everyone should have an interest in social policy, since the goal of social policy is to make the world better for members of your species who are less fortunate than you.