Issues for Debate in Social Policy: Selections from CQ Researcher

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    Preface

    Keeping students up to date on timely policy issues can be challenging given the range of issues, changing administrations, and the volatile political economy. Furthermore, finding readings that are student friendly, accessible, and current can be an even greater challenge. Now CQ Researcher, CQ Press and SAGE have teamed up to provide a unique selection of articles focused on social policy, specifically for courses in Social Welfare Policy and Social Policy. This collection aims to promote in-depth discussion, facilitate further research, and help students formulate their own positions on crucial issues.

    This volume includes eighteen up-to-date reports by CQ Researcher, an award-winning weekly policy brief that brings complicated issues down to earth. Each report chronicles and analyzes executive, legislative, and judicial activities at all levels of government. This collection was carefully crafted to cover a range of issues from the mortgage crisis, to women's rights, child welfare reform, aging baby boomers, the Obama Presidency, and much more. All in all, this reader will help your students become better versed on current policy issues and gain a deeper, more critical perspective of timely and important issues.

    CQ Researcher

    CQ Researcher was founded in 1923 as Editorial Research Reports and was sold primarily to newspapers as a research tool. The magazine was renamed and redesigned in 1991 as CQ Researcher. Today, students are its primary audience. While still used by hundreds of journalists and newspapers, many of which reprint portions of the reports, the Researcher's main subscribers are now high school, college and public libraries. In 2002, Researcher won the American Bar Association's coveted Silver Gavel award for magazine excellence for a series of nine reports on civil liberties and other legal issues.

    Researcher staff writers—all highly experienced journalists—sometimes compare the experience of writing a Researcher report to drafting a college term paper. Indeed, there are many similarities. Each report is as long as many term papers—about 11,000 words—and is written by one person without any significant outside help. One of the key differences is that writers interview leading experts, scholars and government officials for each issue.

    Like students, staff writers begin the creative process by choosing a topic. Working with the Researcher's editors, the writer identifies a controversial subject that has important public policy implications. After a topic is selected, the writer embarks on one to two weeks of intense research. Newspaper and magazine articles are clipped or downloaded, books are ordered and information is gathered from a wide variety of sources, including interest groups, universities and the government. Once the writers are well informed, they develop a detailed outline, and begin the interview process. Each report requires a minimum of ten to fifteen interviews with academics, officials, lobbyists and people working in the field. Only after all interviews are completed does the writing begin.

    Chapter Format

    Each issue of CQ Researcher, and therefore each selection in this book, is structured in the same way. Each begins with an overview, which briefly summarizes the areas that will be explored in greater detail in the rest of the chapter. The next section chronicles important and current debates on the topic under discussion and is structured around a number of key questions, such as “Does corporate social responsibility really improve society?” or “Does corporate social responsibility restrain U.S. productivity?” These questions are usually the subject of much debate among practitioners and scholars in the field. Hence, the answers presented are never conclusive but detail the range of opinion on the topic.

    Next, the “Background” section provides a history of the issue being examined. This retrospective covers important legislative measures, executive actions and court decisions that illustrate how current policy has evolved. Then the “Current Situation” section examines contemporary policy issues, legislation under consideration and legal action being taken. Each selection concludes with an “Outlook” section, which addresses possible regulation, court rulings, and initiatives from Capitol Hill and the White House over the next five to ten years.

    Each report contains features that augment the main text: two to three sidebars that examine issues related to the topic at hand, a pro versus con debate between two experts, a chronology of key dates and events and an annotated bibliography detailing major sources used by the writer.

    We hope that you will be pleased by this edition of Issues for Debate in Social Policy. We welcome your feedback and suggestions for future editions. Please direct comments to Kassie Graves, Publisher, SAGE Publications, 2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320, or kassie.graves@sagepub.com.

    —The Editors of SAGE

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