The purpose of this book is to aid beginning students of social administration by presenting brief critical accounts of various theories which are referred to in the literature of the subject and by showing the extent to which they are relevant to the study of social policy and the social services. The purpose of this chapter is to clarify some initial issues. First, it presents a brief account of the problem presented by the multi-disciplinary nature of social administration. Second, it looks at the nature and status of the social sciences. Third, it considers alternative views of the nature of ‘welfare’ and their ideological implications. ‘Ideology’ here means a system of beliefs, which is used to guide and validate actions. Finally, it describes the position adopted by the writers for the purposes of the book.