Introduction to social welfare | Definitions, Objectives, Characteristics

Social welfare refers to the support of individuals, groups, and communities for well-being and a more effective quality of life for all members of society. It helps the backward people of society and ensures equal opportunities for all. It ensures equal distribution of health benefits, common needs, and education. It also takes initiative programs and helps people to empower themselves and solve socio-economic problems.

Definitions of Social welfare

famous writers and organizations who give exact definitions of social work

According to Walter Arthur Friedlander (Introduction to social welfare),” Social welfare is the organized system of Social Services and Institutions, designed to aid individuals and groups to attain a Satisfying standard of life and health and personal and social relationships, which permit them to develop their full Capacities and to Promote their community.

According to Robert L. Barker, “Social Welfare is a nation’s system of programs, benefits, and services that help people to meet those social, economic, educational and health needs that are fundamental to the maintenance of society.”

According to WHO(World Health Organisation), “Social Welfare is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and merely the amelioration of specific life.”

According to The Social Work Dictionary, “Social welfare is the state of collective well-being of a community or a society.”

Characteristics of social welfare 

  • Social welfare ensures equal inclusion of all people in society in all developmental activities.
  • Social welfare ensures equal and fair treatment of all kinds of people in society.
  • It creates safe boundaries for people from all walks of life who have no help in education, health problems, and employment.
  • Social welfare helps to empower people to fulfill social problems.
  • It collaborates with governmental, non-governmental organizations, and community groups to address social challenges.
  • It addresses various types of social problems before they arise and takes initiative steps to prevent all social problems in a developing society.
  • It promotes social justice by ensuring equal opportunities, education, health benefits, and equal access to resources for members of society.
  • It solves problems and development capacity
  • It helps to obtain social and personal satisfaction
  • Promote social change and promote social development

Scope of social welfare that are discussed below

Medical social welfare: Social workers work In the medical sector They provide help to the patients and their families. Counsel for them. Give proper support in coping with problems.

School social welfare: Social workers work in schools to give support and assistance to the students, teachers, and school staff. They work as counselors for them and advocate for students for social justice. They collaborate with teachers and guardians to support students.

Developmental or correctional services: Social workers provide support to backward people who are in need of resources and privileges. They work as counselors in correctional facilities and help to reintegrate society after their release.

Rehabilitative program: Social workers give mental and emotional support to rehabilitators and their families and work as counselors for them. They help them to cope with arising problems and how to deal with the negative questions of people. They help rehabilitation to reintegration into society after their release.

Family social welfare: Social workers play a very important role in family welfare by giving support and counseling programs. They support family members in overcoming problems and how to deal with arising problems in society. They help family members in strengthening relationships with each other and advocate for those in need.

Child welfare: Social workers help children in understanding their unique needs. They give support emotionally and mentally and ensure the safety of children. They also help them in fostering programs and arrange foster care for themselves. They give support after fostering by collaborating with foster parents by helping them for arranging a good and effective environment for Children. Social workers also advocate for children’s rights and help the government to create a safe and beautiful society for children.

Disability welfare: Social workers work for disabled welfare by giving mental and emotional support. They help them to develop individual plans and transition planning for a bright future for themselves. They also collaborate with family, educators, and therapists and help them in community integration.

Youth welfare: Social workers work to identify youth needs, the risk of youth individuals, and their strengths. They work as counselors and give them emotional support to Cope with different kinds of trauma, family problems, and health issues. They help them in developing social skills and teach them how to apply strategies in overcoming problems and how to make life choices.

Women’s welfare: Social workers play a vital role in women’s welfare by providing health needs, education, and other facilities that are given by the government and other institutions. They help to empower women and give them opportunities to make their own money. They advocate for themselves in need. They help them to be aware of their rights and help them to know how to protect them.

Social welfare aims to promote plans and programs for the well-being of all people around the world. social welfare help to obtain social and personal satisfaction by providing counseling and support to needy people and improving the quality of life for each person. social workers are working all over the world for a healthy, better, and safe environment for people to make a beautiful and prosperous society around the world.

 Modern social welfare

Modern social welfare refers to the range of government programs and initiatives designed to provide financial, medical, educational, and other forms of support to individuals and families in need. These programs aim to promote social and economic well-being, reduce poverty, and ensure basic standards of living for citizens. Examples include healthcare systems, unemployment benefits, housing assistance, food aid, and various social services. The goal is to create a safety net that helps vulnerable populations and encourages a more equitable society.


Analysis and Important Notes about Modern Social Welfare

  1. Diverse and Inclusive Approach:  Modern social welfare aims to be more inclusive and diverse in its approach. It recognizes and addresses the needs of various groups in society, including minorities, LGBTQ+ individuals, people with disabilities, and others who may have been historically marginalized or viewed.
  2. Targeted Assistance Programs: Unlike traditional welfare systems that often provided generalized benefits, modern social welfare programs are designed to be more targeted. They focus on specific issues such as poverty, unemployment, healthcare, education, and housing, tailoring assistance to meet the unique challenges faced by individuals and families.
  3. Evidence-Based Policy: Decision-making in modern social welfare is increasingly driven by data and evidence. Policymakers depend on research and experimental studies to design effective programs and measure their impact, ensuring that resources are allocated where they are most needed.
  4. Prevention-Oriented: Modern social welfare emphasizes a preventative approach rather than merely reacting to problems after they arise. By investing in early intervention and support services, the goal is to address fundamental issues and reduce the need for more extensive and costly interventions later on.
  5. Public-Private Partnerships: Collaboration between government agencies, non-profit organizations, and private businesses is becoming more common in modern social welfare initiatives. This approach intends the expertise and resources of different sectors to create more comprehensive and sustainable solutions.
  6. Empowerment and Self-Sufficiency: Instead of supporting dependency, modern social welfare programs aim to empower individuals and families to become self-sufficient. This may involve providing training, education, or access to resources that enable people to improve their lives and break the cycle of poverty.
  7. Digital Innovation: Technology plays a significant role in modern social welfare, flowing processes, enhancing accessibility, and improving service delivery. Online platforms and digital tools are used for applications, benefit distribution, and communication between beneficiaries and service providers.
  8. Global Perspective: Modern social welfare recognizes that many social issues are not confined to national borders. There is a growing awareness of global interdependence and the need to address international challenges, such as refugees, climate change, and poverty, with coordinated efforts.
  9. Sustainability and Long-Term Planning: Governments are progressively focused on creating sustainable social welfare systems that can withstand economic trouble and demographic changes. Long-term planning is essential to ensure the continued availability of services and support for future generations.
  10. Adapting to Changing Needs: The landscape of social welfare is dynamic, with evolving societal challenges. Modern social welfare systems must remain flexible and adaptable to respond effectively to emerging issues and changing demographics.

It is important to note that the implementation and features of modern social welfare can vary significantly between countries, depending on their political, economic, and cultural contexts. The above points provide a general overview of the key trends and principles guiding modern social welfare practices.

Traditional social welfare

Traditional social welfare refers to the historical and early forms of assistance and support provided to individuals or communities in need. In traditional societies, social welfare often follows informal networks, such as family and community, to offer help during challenging times. This assistance could be in the form of financial aid, food sharing, or providing shelter. Religious institutions and charitable organizations also played a significant role in offering support to the less fortunate. 

Otherwise, modern social welfare, which is primarily governed and funded by the state, traditional social welfare was based on informal and voluntary contributions from various sources within the community.

Analysis of Traditional Social Welfare:

  1. Limited Scope: Traditional social welfare typically had a limited scope, often focusing on providing basic assistance to the most vulnerable members of society, such as the elderly, disabled, and destitute. These programs were primarily aimed at addressing immediate needs without necessarily considering long-term solutions.
  2. Universal Benefits: Many traditional social welfare programs offered universal benefits, available to all citizens regardless of their income or specific needs. For example, certain old-age, pensions, or child allowances were provided to all qualifying individuals, irrespective of their financial situation.
  3. Charity-Based Approach: In the past, social welfare was often rooted in charitable efforts, driven by religious or community organizations. Assistance to the needy was largely dependent on donations, philanthropy, and the goodwill of individuals, rather than being backed by extensive government policies.
  4. Stigmatization and Dependency Concerns: Traditional social welfare sometimes accepted an offense, as receiving assistance was viewed as a sign of dependency or personal failure. This understanding could deter eligible individuals from accessing much-needed support, leading to an underutilization of available resources.
  5. Fragmented and Patchwork System: Traditional social welfare systems could be broken into and inappropriate, with various charitable organizations and local initiatives providing assistance without a cohesive national strategy. This patchwork approach sometimes led to inequities in the distribution of aid across different regions.
  6. Limited Emphasis on Data and Evaluation: Basically, modern social welfare, which emphasizes evidence-based decision-making, traditional approaches often lacked strong data analysis and evaluation mechanisms. As a result, the effectiveness of programs and their impact on beneficiaries might not have been severely measured and valued.

It is important to recognize that the concept and implementation of traditional social welfare varied across historical periods and regions. Different societies had their own unique approaches to caring for the disadvantaged and vulnerable members of their communities. The points mentioned above highlight some common characteristics of traditional social welfare systems, but they do not represent an exhaustive overview of all historical practices.

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