The European Welfare State
Full course description
The recent economic crisis and developments in the EU have led to a rise in poverty and unemployment (among youth in particular), as well as a surge in right-wing parties. This has created a challenging framework for policy makers and individuals alike. The living conditions are deteriorating for many member states and solidarity and various social benefits are decreasing rapidly.
Throughout the course, students will learn about citizen involvement in social problems (e.g. poverty, unemployment, exclusion on various grounds) within European communities and countries. Gaining international perspectives and experience is an important component of the course. At the end of the course, students will be able to act as a social policy analyst and troubleshoot various social situations.
The course consists of three sections:
1. The introduction discusses the key theories of social policy, introduces students to the welfare state concept and explores their historical development in Europe and other parts of the world;
2. The analytical section focuses on specific social programmes (poverty alleviation, social assistance, pension systems and the classification of the welfare state). Here you will learn how to interpret scientific literature;
3. The operational section relates to the practical mechanism behind how the welfare state operates in the EU, requiring students to deepen their understanding of how social policy structures interact. It includes a simulation exercise to experience how policymakers make decisions in practice.
- To introduce students to the main concepts in European social policy and one of the fundamental pillars in the European Union: the solidarity principle and welfare state;
- To identify different practices and concepts across the world, using cases from students’ home countries and contrasting social security systems from various welfare states;
- To equip students with analytical skills that enables them to easily identify the type of welfare regime and its characteristics;
- To bring the student to the core of the social action: “Think like a social policy analyst, act like a social worker”.
The course is particularly suited to students with economics, political science, sociology or social work backgrounds and is open to students with law majors. However, it is important to note that most of the course readings are from the social sciences.
- Copeland P. (2019) Governance and the European Social Dimension, Routledge Studies on Government and the European Union.
- Sen A. (2018), Collective Choice and Social Welfare, Harvard University Press.
- Kennett P. and Lendvai-Bainton N. (2017), Handbook of European Social Policy, Edward Elgar Publishing.
- Picketty T. & Goldhammer A., (2016), Capital in the Twenty First Century, Harvard University Press.
- Barr N. (2012), The Economics of the Welfare State, Policy Press.