The concept of Sozialpolitik (social policy) has rarely been considered in the English-language literature thus far. The present article surveys the pertinent English, American and German literature which led to the initiation of the Verein für Sozialpolitik (Social Policy Association) in 1873. All these efforts culminated in Otto von Zwiedineck's classic book, Sozialpolitik (1911). A chapter of this book, now printed in Zwiedineck's collected essays, Mensch und Wirtschaft, is offered in English translation for the first time. The article presents and clarifies the concept of Sozialpolitik in terms of social action directed toward problems affecting society as a whole and the continued attainment of society's goals. However, the definition of these goals remains subject to change. A theoretical foundation for the integration of scientific and normative perspectives in the social sciences is thereby provided.