The Discipline of Social Policy and Biculturalism
This paper explores the extent to which the academic discipline of social policy reflects dominant belief systems.
Social policy has its roots in the social administrative tradition, which sees social problems as being real, identifiable and open to amelioration. In the 1960s a more explanatory approach sought to remove the focus away from pathologising the failure of individuals and groups, towards a systems-level approach which explored structural and institutional sources of disadvantage. Through all this, New Zealand social policy analysis has been strongly influenced by Western theoretical ideas and policy models, and British social policy in particular. The assumption that similar models can be applied across countries can, however, act as a barrier to exploring a topic such as biculturalism in New Zealand
The paper discusses five stances that may be taken to social policy analysis in New Zealand: monoculturalism, multiculturalism, focusing on the Treaty, sloganising, and problematising paradigms. It suggests that making these positions transparent is a useful starting point for understanding the relationship between social policy and biculturalism.