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Domestic Policy
Guide: Social Policy

This collection of resources charts the historical development of social policy in the United States. Secondary sources provide an overview of major social policy initiatives, including education, housing, and welfare reform. Documents and images illustrate opposing viewpoints over the role the government should play in people's everyday lives. Use the Export to My Lists button above to turn this into a research list for your students.

Theme Key Understandings

  • Governments' approaches to regulation change over time based on domestic and global circumstances
  • American domestic policies span a spectrum from a free-market approach to a highly regulatory approach
  • A citizen's opinion on the need for regulation generally depends on his or her role in society
  • Social and economic policies form the basis of domestic policy
  • Through social policy, government officials can provide programs and services to maintain and improve citizen welfare
  • Through economic policy, the government seeks to maintain stability for the national economy
  • Foreign policies are influenced by the accepted doctrine of a time period, which is often shaped in reaction to world events
  • The executive branch plays the leading role in directing foreign policy

Key Questions

  • Discuss the increased importance of public health and social insurance programs over the last 150 years of U.S. history. Why did these policy areas receive increasing attention during this time?
  • Criminal justice, education, and public housing are areas where there are a number of different views about the appropriate government approach to policy. Select one of these areas to compare and contrast two opposing points of view in regards to the direction of policy for the United States.


  1. Overview: Social Policy
  2. Timelines: Welfare Reform: Timeline
  3. Timelines: Education Reform: Timeline
  4. Outlines: Outline
  5. Transcripts: Transcript
  6. Lesson: Introduction
  7. Lesson: 1-Social Policy Overview
  8. Lesson: 2-Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid
  9. Lesson: 3-Education Policy
  10. Lesson: 4-Housing Policies after WWII
  11. Lesson: 5-Labor Policy and Regulation
  12. Lesson: Closing
  13. Photos & Illustrations: Great Depression: crowd protests outside failed bank (1931)
  14. Photos & Illustrations: Health care reform demonstration (2009)
  15. Photos & Illustrations: Tea Party health care reform protest (2009)
  16. Reference Articles: Criminal Justice System
  17. Reference Articles: Entitlement Programs
  18. Reference Articles: Low-income Housing
  19. Reference Articles: Progressive Movement
  20. Political Cartoons, Posters & Document Images: Social Security: Supplemental Security Income poster
  21. Political, Government & Court Documents: Dix, Dorothea: Report on the Insane (1843)
  22. Speeches: Johnson, Lyndon B.: Great Society speech (1964)

MLA Citation

"Social Policy." History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2019, historyhub.abc-clio.com/Support/Content/2156178?cid=256. Accessed 6 Dec. 2019.

Entry ID: 2156178

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