Social Policy (21706)

Module guide

Key information:


Dr Visnja Vukov




[email protected]

Office hours


Assignatura: Social Policy

Codi de l'assignatura: 21706

Estudis: Grau en Ciències Polítiques i de l'Administració

Nombre de Crèdits: 4 crèdits ECTS (100 hores de dedicació)

Curs Acadèmic: 2015-2016

Trimestre: 3er

Llengua de Docència: Anglès / English

Course aims:

The aim of this module is to understand social policy in a historical and comparative perspective, which makes it relevant to understand today's challenges to welfare provision. The module examines different theoretical perspectives to welfare states in order to identify the main ideological and structural challenges that welfare states face in the 21st century. Whilst there will be examples from different areas of the world, the module focuses on advanced political economies of welfare.

Course objectives:

This course is part of the optional courses itinerary "public policy and public management" that together, develops the following competencies/skills:



CB2. That students can apply their knowledge to their work or vocation in a professional manner and have competences typically demonstrated through devising and sustaining arguments and solving problems within their field of study.

CB3. That students have the ability to gather and interpret relevant data (usually within their field of study) to inform judgments that include reflection on relevant social, scientific or ethical.

CB4. That students can communicate information, ideas, problems and solutions to both specialist and non-specialist audiences.

CB5. That students have developed those skills needed to undertake further studies with a high degree of autonomy.



CG1. Capacity for analysis and synthesis.

CG3. Knowledge of a second language.

CG7. Ability to work in an interdisciplinary team.

CG13. Leadership.

CG15. Project design and management.



CT1. Identify and analyze critically gender inequality and its intersection with other axes of inequality.



CE3. Examine the structure and functioning of political institutions.

CE10. Analyze the structure, organization and functioning of public administrations at various levels.

CE11. Analyze the planning and administration of management.

CE13. Interpret the economic environment and the economic dimension of the public sector.

CE14. Contrast the capacity for planning, implementation, evaluation and analysis of public policies.

CE16. Analyze the structure and functioning of the European Union.


The course will be delivered entirely in English. Final essays should be submitted in English.

Course organisation:

The course will be delivered through a mixture of introductory lectures and seminars. Following an introductory session, we will meet weekly (please note that there is no class on 16 May), for three-hour sessions. Everyone will be expected to read thoroughly prior to the session and to contribute fully to discussions. A student cannot miss more than 3 sessions in order to be credited for the course.


Course evaluation:

· The course will be assessed with continuous evaluation.

· Plagiarism will mean a mark of 0. Plagiarism is a form of academic misconduct, which involves passing the work of others as your own. It goes beyond copying and it will be considered as a serious academic offence. If you are in doubt over what constitutes plagiarism, please consult me.


Participation in class discussions - 20%

The students are expected to read the required literature and come to the seminars prepared. It is very important that the students actively participate in the seminar discussions as their participation will form 20% of the grade.


Group presentation - 20%

During the first seminar, work groups will be formed and you will choose the topic that your group will work on.

PowerPoints are required for the group presentations. In addition, you are encouraged to be creative in your presentation, so feel free to involve the audience or develop role-play exercises.

Presentations should be 20 minutes long. They must relate to the week's overall theme, hence you should first read the allocated week's compulsory reading materials. This will give you an overall view of what the key arguments are.

Essay - 60%


· Essays will be submitted using Turnitin

· Plagiarism will mean a mark of 0.

· You are advised to discuss a one-page outline of your essay with me during the last two sessions which will be organized as individual tutorials

· Essays should be between 2500 and 3000 words and they must be submitted in English.

· You must use at least 4 or more academic articles or books from the course reading list in the final essay.


According to the UPF evaluation system, there is a possibility of recuperation for students that did not pass the course. Students that failed the course will have to meet two conditions in order to have the right to recuperation: 1) they should have done the public presentation and 2) they should have submitted the final essay. The students with the right to recuperation will need to submit another essay in agreement with the professor and in accordance with the particular element they failed (continuous evaluation or the final essay).



Course structure:




Session 1

Introduction to social policy - worlds of welfare capitalism

Organise work groups

Session 2

Main actors in social policy making: parties, bureaucrats, social movements

Class Debate

Session 3

Welfare models beyond rich  democracies (the South and the East of Europe, as well as the Global South)

3 presentations on three models of welfare:

1. Southern Europe (Spain)

2. Latin America (Brazil or Chile)

3. Eastern Europe (Czech Republic or Poland)

Session 4

Key areas in social policy (pensions, health, social care, etc)

3 presentations:

1. Health (compare the British NHS and the US programme Medicare)

2. Family policy (compare Dutch family policy with Spanish family policy)

3. Pensions (compare pension system in Sweden with Italy)

Session 5

Key transformations of the welfare state - From welfare to workfare

3 presentations:

1. Workfare in Britain

2. Flexicurity in Denmark

3. Critique of workfare from different ideological positions (you can choose one)

Session 6

European integration and the welfare state

3 presentations:

1. Europeanizing social policy? Employment policy, Open Method of Coordination and the European Social Fund

2. European Court of Justice and national social policy

3. Migration and the welfare state

Session 7

The politics of retrenchment: welfare state in crisis

3 presentations:

1. Austerity measures and the welfare state in southern European countries

2. Austerity measures and the welfare state in Ireland and France.

3. Neoliberal transformations in Scandinavia

Session 8

Individual tutorials to discuss final assessment.

Session 9

Individual tutorials to discuss final assessment.


Selected reading materials:

Béland, D, (2005) "Ideas and Social Policy: An Institutionalist Perspective" Social Policy & Administration, 39-1: 1-18.

Castles, F.G., 2004. The Future of the Welfare State: Crisis Myths and Crisis Realities, Oxford: Oxford University Press

Cox, R. H. (1998) "The Consequences of Welfare Reform: How Conceptions of Social Rights are Changing" Journal of Social Policy, 27-1: 1-16

Cox, R. H. (2001), The social construction of an imperative: why welfare reform happened in Denmark and the Netherlands but not in Germany, World Politics, 53: 463-98.

Daguerre, A. (2004), Importing workfare: policy transfer of social and labour market policies from the USA to Britain under New Labour, Social Policy & Administration, 38, I: 41-56

Esping-Andersen, G. (1990) The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism. Cambridge: Polity Press

Estevez-Abe, M., T. Iversen, and D. Soskice (2001) 'Social Protection and the Formation of Skills', in P. Hall and Soskice, D. (eds.) Varieties of Capitalism: The Institutional Foundations of Comparative Advantage. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 145-183

Featherstone, B. (2006) 'Why Gender Matters in Child Welfare Protection', Critical Social Policy 26(2): 294-314.

Fraser, N. (1995) "From Redistribution to Recognition? Dilemmas of Justice in a "Post- Socialist" Age" New Left Review 212, pp. 68-92

Fraser, N. (2003) 'Social Justice in the Age of Identity Politics', pp. 7-109 in N. Fraser and A. Honneth (eds) Redistribution or Recognition? London and New York: Verso.

Haggard, S. and R. Kaufman (2008) Development, Democracy and Welfare States: Latin America, East Asia and Eastern Europe. Princeton University Press

Hausermann, S. and B. Palier (2008) 'State of the Art Report: The Politics of Employment-friendly Welfare Reforms' Socio-economic review 2008: 1-28

Huber, E. and J. Stephens (2001) Development and crisis of the welfare state. Parties and  policies in global markets. University of Chicago Press

Jessop, B. (2002) The Future of the Capitalist State. Cambridge: Polity Press. (especially chapters 4 and 7)

Korpi, W. (2003) Welfare state regress in Western Europe: Politics, Institutions, Globalization and Europeanization. Annual Review of Sociology 29:589-609

Levitas, R. (1998) The Inclusive Society? Social Exclusion and New Labour. Basingstoke: Palgrave. (chapter 1: Three Discourses of Social Exclusion)

Lister, R. (2002) 'The Dilemmas of Pendulum Politics: Balancing Paid Work, Care and Citizenship', Economy and Society 31(4): 520-32.

Marshall, T.H. (1992) Citizenship and Social Class. London: Pluto Press.

Pierson, P. (1996), The new politics of the welfare state, World Politics, 48: 143-79

Rudra, N. (2008) Globalization and the Race to the Bottom in Developing Countries. Who Really Gets Hurt? Cambridge University Press

Ryner, J. M. (2002) Capitalist Restructuring, Globalisation and the Third Way. Lessons from the Swedish model. London: Routledge.

Sainsbury, D. (1999) "Gender and Social-Democratic Welfare States" In Sainsbury, D. (ed.) Gender and welfare state regimes. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Scharpf, F. (2002) The European Social Model. Coping with the Challenges of Diversity. MPIfG Working Paper 02/8

Schmidt, V.A. & Scharpf, F.W. eds., 2000. Welfare and Work in the Open Economy, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Skocpol, T. (1992), Protecting Soldiers and Mothers: The Political Origins of Social Policy in the United States, Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.

Standing, K. (1999) 'Lone Mothers and "Parental" Employment: A Contra-diction in Policy?', Journal of Social Policy 28(3): 479-95.

Swank, D. (2002) Global Capital, Political Institutions, and Political Change in Developed Welfare States. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Taylor-Gooby, P. (1994) 'Postmodernism and Social Policy: A Great Leap Backwards?', Journal of Social Policy 23(3): 385-404.

Theodore, N. and Peck, J. (1999) 'Welfare-to- work: national problems, local solutions?', Critical Social Policy, vol. 19, no 4: 485-510.

Torfing, J. (1999) "Towards a Schumpeterian workfare postnational regime: path-shaping and path-dependency in Danish welfare state reform" Economy and Society, 28-1: 369-402.