Differentiation of Society and the Development of Social Policy

Economic differentiation – differentiation in terms of different economic power: stratification.

Explanatory tool is economic theory with its different dimensions, namely


micro- and macro theory


labour and profit, accumulation, difference between profit and surplus value


«factor prices»


historical-moral element of the value of labour power

Keynesianism – Liberalism – Planned Economy

Fundamentally driven by economic forces/mechanisms increasing division of labour as functional differentiation


as vertical differentiation, attributing different status to different «functions»


as horizontal differentiation, status being of derived nature

In particular here we find the development of specific institutions and mechanisms of regulation – «regulating institutions», including the state itself. Such institutions play increasingly a role as «distinct systems».

Form here politics and policies can be explained to some extent as following specific »laws», «ideologies» and «functions».[1]

  1. It is he «own functionality» that stands at the core of any activities;

  2. And it is the necessity to «compensate» for «lacks of homogeneity» of the entirety of society and the shortcomings of other systems (e.g. as in capitalist societies the economic system is based on the mechanism of profit making there is the need for compensation in terms of social security …).

The social and even more so social policy appear to get «independent», being not an aggregate of individual action but independent as a structure in its own rights.

As far as this is a «real mechanism» it opens the way for social policy to develop from a «problem solving», solely «compensating» mechanism to an instrument of «social design» - «social management» plays different roles and takes different forms in this development, defining the mutual link between the different «subsystems» of society[2] (e.g. economics, social policy, legal system, cultural system …)

It is here as well that (and how) rights are defined.


[1]          See for the theory debate as well «Sociology of the Marguerite» in the notes 2001/02

[2]          Mind: the fundamental determination of any (sub-)systemic concern is given by the functional mechanisms and «goals» of the formation – see in this context not least the Gramsci-quote in the section «Development of Society I