The purpose of this paper is to reflect on the nature of social policies and the public policymaking process. It is demonstrated that public social policies tend to accrue an aura or ideology of benevolence that is only partially warranted, and that may be quite misleading to policy analysts and citizenry. The major thrust of the paper is to consider the social policy process as a strategy for public decision-making. As such, properly organized, it can provide an alternative and complementary strategy to electoral politics and protest movements. To be effective as a strategy, three major barriers must be overcome: the lack of openness in the public policy process, the active discouragement of citizen participation, and the failure to evaluate policy outcomes. Some notions are advanced about how social policy analysts and researchers can improve their work and thereby assist in the democratization of the process.

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