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Social Policy Analysis: Portugal's Drug Policy (Thesis Sample)




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Chapter 1: Introduction
A policy is a mechanism of working, duties, a view, accountability, responsibilities, or rather an unwritten societal or ethical law that guides conduct. Policies can generally be guiding principles, laws, statements of purpose, plan of actions, working structures to accomplish particular objectives, a scheme of action, rules and guidelines (Weimer et al., 2017). Policies are different depending on the environment and the people. For instance, the working members in a supermarket have policies regarding their dress code and how they handle the customers. Staff members in an office also have various policies regarding how to request for leave, and also salary policies and regulations. There are also various policies within members of a household, such as the times' kids need to be in bed, or even the person responsible for the different house chores. Policies may be established in different ways (Weimer et al., 2017). They may be agreed as a way of settling disagreements. They may be established via routine and repetition, or they may also be developed through cultural practices through the ways of performing things in a community.
Social policy is also known public policy and refers to formal public policy, as established by nations, and is aimed to influence the several participants working within a system or division and the processes and approaches built onto it, in forms that direct them to perform duties together to realise common objectives and targets (Dunn et al., 2015). The sole purpose of social policies is to create public value; that is, the policies strive to generate things of value to the society as a whole in any nation and also to build and strengthen public institutions, such as schools, prisons, health facilities that function in ways that the citizens assess as fair and liable.
Social policies are those that impact: the adequate provision of services or authorising of services; the provision of advice, reliable information, and education concerning veracious public matters such as drug indulgence; the establishment of regulations and laws, punishments and penalties, rules regarding taxation, and the policing of these rules such as reinforcing the performance and financing the programs that support such policies; the use of economic tools, such as taxes, or social grants to fund the various programs regarding social development.; the control and behaviours of markets- such as laws governing tobacco and other drugs advertisement; and also monitoring of citizens’ rights (Hudson et al., 2009). All these kinds of policies are themselves the outcome of many decisions made by those with the formal roles in specific policy sectors. These may include the verdict to take account of a matter as a problem worthy of concern by policymakers; the firmness to develop a specific strategy to address that matter, and the decision to allot human and financial resource to the particular policy. These numerous decisions are at times regarded to follow an honestly linear way- including issue identification to priority putting to policy development, implementation and, through, evaluation, back to issue identification (Hudson et al., 2009). Yet, policy decision making is much less direct and subject to several influences.
In general, formal social policies reflect the purpose of the country to act on a specific matter. Social policies provide the objectives, vision, principles and proposals that endeavour to guide appropriate activities, together with establishing accountability and leadership for those activities. Social policy can, however, arise from ‘non-decisions’. A ‘non-decision’ happens when a decision is intentionally made not to address a matter; or when handling a matter is merely evaded; or as an outcome of a fault. In these situations, the ‘non-decision’ mat still impact the conduct of participants and the functioning of the system it is aimed to impact. Sometimes, non-decision making is expressed because of power, where one of the participants wants to exercise power for their interests. For instance, in a committee, where the chair or any other influential member works to keep a problem in which they have personal profit off the committee’s plans so that rules about the problem are never established.
Social policies often take a formal way, which is in terms of written documents. These can be documents which are termed as policies, yet can still be regulations, or legislation. Nonetheless, policies may also be in the form of informal written documents- for example, memos or communication forms to those working in societies. Social policies can still take the forge of formal public statements. For example, the ministerial budget statements in the chamber of deputies which stipulate plans of actions for ministries in the coming years. Formal policies are only useful for citizens via how they are applied and the way they are put into practise by the citizens (Weimer et al., 2017). Simply, social policies need to be comprehended to include formal statements of purpose together with the informal, unwritten practices that make them active and shape whether and how the policies attain the intended objectives.
For evaluation of an implemented policy, an agent must undertake policy analysis. Policy analysis may be the systematic examining of all factors, individuals, procedures that influence how policy is established, formulated and applied (Dunn et al., 2015). Analysis of a policy is a bit different from other understandings which deal with the technical work that supports the development of policies, and the works that are involved in evaluating new and current policies. Policy analysis is essential since it enables public officials and leaders understand how political, social, and economic situations change and how social policies need to transform to reach the changing desires and needs of a changing society. Policy analysis also needs a carefully organised and experimental study (Dunn et al., 2015). Additionally, some experts specialise in problem-solving and also deal with some community’s most critical matters involving healthcare, crimes, environmental issues and education and these are called social policy analysts.
There are also several stages of a policy cycle. These phases are agenda setting, policy formulation, policy implementation, and eventually, policy evaluation (Hudson et al., 2009). Agenda setting involves the identification of issues and putting priorities for what is required to be addressed. What does, and does not, get onto the policy-development docket determines what policies are drafted and is influenced by policy participants’ desires and needs. Policy formulation involves the participants with formal policy power making decisions about the specifics of policy content, applying different decision-making approaches, and possibly involving other policy participants. Policy implementation involves applying the policy content via different strategies and by several schemes and people, including the adjustment or non-implementation of the policy these policy participants (Hudson et al., 2009). Policy evaluation involves assessing the success or failure of the policy, either during its establishment and implementation, at times with a perspective to effecting this process, or after these stages, as a ground for further policy action.
Nevertheless, the experience of policy development and planning reveals that the methods in which problems are recognised for policy consideration and in which policies are prepared, negotiated and implemented do not involve a simple linear procedure in which there is an understandable decision to proceed from one phase to the next. Instead, the processes of policy development and implementation happen over several years, at times proceeding forward across the phases mentioned, at times moving in halts and begins, and sometimes proceeding forward and backwards and sideways (Weimer et al., 2017). Furthermore, a policy matter may be recognised at a specific political moment and immediately gets priority approval, proceeding from formulation to implementation quite rapidly. A new government may quickly implement policies after the election process.
Policy implementation processes are usually categorised into some approaches, which include top-down or bottom-up approaches (Hudson et al., 2009). A top-down approach is also referred to as autocratic leadership approach. In this approach, decisions are made at the national level and then rendered into functioning instructions for implementation by lower-level participants. The implementation process is regarded as a complex process done by administrative agencies, as in the phases model or coherent planning. From this view, central policy participants have the authority to effect the overall policy transformation process, and simply order transformation throughout the organisation. Implementation should, therefore, be perceived as a process of agreement with pre-determined objectives and standards (Hudson et al., 2009). Some conditions that may lead to failure this approach in policy implementation include; external factors which constrain the implementation process, inadequate resources such as time and funds, great dependency relationships in the implementation process when the objectives are not understood and not agreed upon, when the roles are not detailed in the right sequence, and when there is not eloquent communication and co-ordination.
The bottom-up implementation takes a more c...

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