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IFCO 2265 - Comparative Social Policy in the 21st Century

Type d'enseignement : Lecture alone

Semester : Spring 2016-2017

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English

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Course Description

The course provides a comprehensive outlook of comparative social policy, spanning from theory to practice. The lecture series is divided in four parts. The first part introduces the comparative method and its centrality within the social policy literature. We reflect upon the possibility to generalise from the analysis of few cases by moving up and down on the ‘ladder of abstraction'. In addition, we define the comparative social policy field in accordance with the contemporary and historical literature. The second part illustrates the main explanations of welfare state development and describes Esping-Andersen's welfare regimes. We also critically assess the evolution of welfare regimes over time and their ‘potential' heuristic validity for the future. The third part highlights the main challenges (namely new social risks, family changes, the demographic evolution, globalization and crises) for welfare states and analyses how different countries are coping with social change. The fourth and last part of the course considers welfare states as an independent variable: alternative welfare state configurations have different effects on redistribution, social capital creation, and the competitive advantage of countries. For this reason we analyse how countries use social policy to address simultaneously societal and economic issues. Finally, the conclusion reflects upon the potential trajectory and future evolution of the welfare state assuming in turn ‘utopian' and ‘pragmatic' perspectives.


  • FERRAGINA, Emanuele (Assistant Professor of Sociology at Sciences Po)
  • MOREIRA RAMALHO, Tiago M. (Etudiant doctorant)

Pedagogical format

Lecture Course.

Course validation

The exam has two components: (1) a first homework including an abstract and a detailed plan for the final essay (no more than 800 words) to be submitted in week 9 – concerning one or more themes discussed between week 1 and 8. Worth 30% of the final grade. (2) A second essay (around 2500 words) concerning any aspect of the course work (the essay can be an extension of the first homework or an essay on a new topic). One point will be deducted for each day of delay. Submitting after noon on the deadline day will carry one point of penalty. Worth 70% of the final grade


Students are expected to read ‘the required readings' every week, which constitute the backbone of the coursework. ‘Recommended and additional readings' provide fine-grained insights about specific topics and broader theoretical frameworks. The teaching assistant will propose two facultative seminars to illustrate what we expect from you and discuss specific questions on the first homework and the essay. The first seminar will be held in week 4.

Required reading

Cf syllabus

Plans de cours et bibliographies