This writer assumes that there is a reciprocal interdependence between the providers and the receivers of social welfare programs and explores one particular aspect of that exchange. A proposition explored here is that self-interest is a dynamic in social welfare policy formulation and that such a dynamic is founded on the basic assumption of reciprocal interdependence. The perception of newlyfound self-interests obtainable in alternative social welfare policy options is examined here as a factor in inducing purposive policy change.
It Is proposed here that the common characterization of the welfare relationship as a unilateral transfer has obscured the connection between the problem and policy. The late Richard Titmuss refers to social policy as relating to unilateral transfers (e.g., grants or Tgftst and economic policy as relating to markets and exchanges and bilateral transfers (Titmuss, 1968: 22). On the contrary, conceptualizing the welfare relationship as being comprised of reciprocal exchanges forces us to look at the bilateral nature of polfcy benefits with social and economic policy being inseparable. Inasmuch as "downward" redistributive policies have received abundant attention, and while not denying the efficacy and promise of exploring the distributive effects of "upward" transfers, this paper will focus on the possibility that there are incentives held by those population categories who are in positions to influence policy change and who, coincidentally and concomitantly, are beneficiaries In provider roles.
The identification of those incentives which relate favorably to newly-found self-interests may hold some promise for a more equitable distribution of the burden of social problems and the benefits of social welfare policies. It is proposed here that policy change is likely to occur when those in advantaged positions are able to perceive newly-found self-interests and support the associated new policy options. This "principle of substitution" (see Zeckhauser and Shaeffer, 1968: 43) or principle of willingness, founded on the perception of self-interest, may provide a dynamic for policy change In situations where Inequality and/or repressive policies heretofore relied only upon moral exhortation or legislative or judicial mandate for egalitarian relief.
Flynn, John P.
"Self-Interest, Social Welfare Policy and Social Problems,"
The Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare: Vol. 2
, Article 2.
Available at: http://scholarworks.wmich.edu/jssw/vol2/iss1/2