social administration The study of social arrangements and policies aimed at meeting social needs—especially state welfare systems. Academic social administration has typically adopted a practical, problem-solving, reforming approach, frequently criticized as being empiricist, prescriptive, and narrow; theoretically informed approaches to welfare are now more common. However, as the processes of transferring responsibilities for public welfare from the state to the private sector proceed, public-sector directors and managers increasingly replace administrators, and in this context the term social administration sounds somewhat dated. The social administration approach to social policy is well represented by the work of Brian Abel-Smith, whose influential books include A History of the Nursing Profession (1960), The Hospitals, 1800–1948 (1964), The Poor and the Poorest (1965), and Value for Money in the Health Services (1976).
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