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Social Welfare 112: Social Policy: Getting Started

Defining Social Policy

Social policy may be defined as any formal government enactment that affects the well-being of people, including laws, regulations, executive orders, and court decisions. In the United States, with its federal tradition of shared government, social policies are made by governments at many levels—local, state, and national.

 Social Policy. In Encyclopedia of Social Work. : Oxford University Press.

Starting Points

Oxford Research Encyclopedia Social Work From the National Association of Social Workers and Oxford University Press -- a great starting place, policy on many social work topics.

Oxford Handbook of U.S. Social Policy -- Great overview of major U.S. programs and policies.

Comprehensive Handbook of Social Work and Social Welfare Contains many sections on Social Policy and Policy Practice.

Oxford Bibliographies: Social Work Great overview of key topics in Social Welfare written by experts in the field.

The  Green Book is a key resource for federal programs. It provides updated statistics and information on programs such as Medicare, Social Security, Unemployment Compensation, Foster Care and welfare. Additionally, it includes a discussion of related issues, such as the well-being of the elderly and of children and families.

Congressional Publications  contains congressional documents (hearings, committee prints, documents, and legislative histories) which are searchable through this fulltext database.  CRS Research Reports are particularly helpful for overviews of federal policies on an array of topics.

Nexis Uni (Formerly LexisNexis AcademicSearch) Fulltext searchable database of law reviews, cases and statutes.

MetaLib and USA.govare two ways to search a variety of US Government sources with lots of information on social policies at the federal level, the Think Tank Search from Harvard is another useful search engine.

Finding Articles

The Library has hundreds of databases supporting all academic disciplines at Berkeley. You can also search for databases that emphasize formats such as data, newspapers, dissertations, government documents and more. Google Scholar is another good starting point.

Books on Social Welfare Policy

Subject Guide

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Susan Edwards
Social Research Library
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720


UC eLinks and Citation Linker

Sometimes the database you search doesn't link to the fulltext -- it only gives the citation. Click the UC e-links button to see if Berkeley has it online, and if not, it will check for a print version.  And if we don't have it at all, it lets you request it through Interlibrary Loan.

What if there isn't a UC e-links button??? Sometimes you find an article in a bibliography, a book or a footnote -- and you want to see if we have it. The Citation Linker searches through our online databases to see if it's available fulltext. If not, it sets up a search for the item in Melvyl. And if we don't have it at Berkeley, it lets you request it through Interlibrary Loan.