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IFCO 2265 - Comparative Social Policy in the 21st Century

Type d'enseignement : Lecture alone

Semester : Spring 2018-2019

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English

Voir les plans de cours et bibliographies

Pre-requisite

None

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.

Teachers

  • FERRAGINA, Emanuele (Assistant Professor of Sociology at Sciences Po)
  • FILETTI, Federico D. (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.

Workload

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.

Required reading

Cf syllabus

Plans de cours et bibliographies

Session 1: How to Compare?

  • We will discuss the core concepts and principles of comparative analysis. How can we generalise from few cases? How can we use comparative analysis meaning fully whilst avoiding selection bias and correctly moving on the ‘ladder of abstraction’?  How can we use ideal types to describe reality?

Session 2: What is Comparative Social Policy?

  • The second lecture introduces the field of comparative social policy. How does a comparative approach inform the understanding of social policy? Together with a description of comparative social policy from contemporary scholars, we discuss the historical development of the discipline relying on the classical work of Briggs, Marshall and Titmuss.

Session 3: Explaining Welfare State Development

  • Under what conditions and for what reasons have welfare states developed? Many explanations have been proposed in order to explain the expansion of the welfare state and its different configurations across countries: from the logic of industrialism and modernisation to power resources and the role of different parties, from the role of political institutions to that of culture and ideas. This lecture provides a comprehensive outlook of these theories.

Session 4: Welfare Regimes: Esping-Andersen and Beyond

  • Typologies are a useful way to understand the variation among welfare states and for this reason - despite many criticisms - they have been at the forefront of comparative social policy over the last two decades. This lecture describes the taxonomy proposed by Esping-Andersen, illustrating the core principles (i.e. social citizenship, decommodification and stratification), and the alternative typologies proposed in the literature. Finally, we critically discuss the potential of welfare regime typologies for the future ‘business’ of comparative social policy.

Session 5: New Social Risks and Challenges for the Welfare State

  • To what extent was there a ‘golden age’ of the welfare state in the 1950s and 1960s? What are the major challenges that confront the advanced welfare states today? The shift from Fordism to a post-industrial society has largely contributed to the appearance of the so-called ‘New Social Risks’ (NSR). These risks are related to the tertiarisation of employment and the massive entry of women into the labour market. NSR include: (1) problems related to the reconciliation between work and family life, (2) the increased number of single parents and (3) frail relatives, (4) the growing unemployment of low skilled people and (5) the insufficient social coverage for certain social groups. This lecture provides a comprehensive description of this changing environment.

Session 6: From Retrenchment to Recalibration: Understanding Welfare State Change

  • After analysing the new challenges for the welfare state, this section illustrates welfare state changes implemented to cope with this new landscape. To what extent have welfare states been subject to processes of retrenchment (or recalibration)? Is restructuring a better way to describe the changes that have taken place in the welfare state or are we witnesses of widespread dualization processes? Are we witnessing a convergence of outcomes, such as inequality and poverty, or are the Nordic welfare states still different?

Session 7: Family Changes and the Welfare State

  • Family structures have dramatically changed across OECD countries. The traditional male breadwinner model is no longer dominant and mothers are increasingly employed outside the home. These changes are heavily contributing to the appearance of new family models based on a variety of ‘adult worker models’. This also generates major pressures in terms of caring needs of children, older people and people with disabilities, but also on fertility rates. This lecture illustrates how family policy has evolved in order to respond to changing family structures. In a context of austerity, family policy is the only segment of the welfare state in which public investment has heavily expanded.

Session 8: Globalisation, the Economic Crisis and the Welfare State

  • Typologies are a useful way to understand the variation among welfare states and for this reason - despite many criticisms - they have been at the forefront of comparative social policy over the last two decades. This lecture describes the taxonomy proposed by Esping-Andersen, illustrating the core principles (i.e. social citizenship, decommodification and stratification), and the alternative typologies proposed in the literature. Finally, we critically discuss the potential of welfare regime typologies for the future ‘business’ of comparative social policy.

Session 9: The Welfare State and Redistribution

  • Together with social inclusion, poverty alleviation, employment promotion and overall protection against the ‘five giants’, welfare states have aimed at reducing income disparity (especially in Europe). Hence, in a context of growing income and wealth inequalities, it is important to go back to the basics and clearly understand the mechanisms through which different welfare states redistribute (opportunities and outcomes). In addition to the ‘paradox of redistribution’ (and its critique), we move beyond the traditional comparative social policy literature by also considering the economic analysis of Piketty and the ‘rational’ ground in favour of equality provided by Wilkinson in The Spirit Level.

Session 10: The Welfare State and Social Capital

  • Does an extensive welfare state contribute to fostering social capital? Do different welfare state configurations contribute to the creation of social networks, social norms, and trust? The scholarship is divided on this subject. One argument, supported by neoclassical and communitarian theorists, is that extensive welfare states tend to crowd out social capital. According to this approach, state-driven activities replace spontaneous solidarity and voluntary activity with ‘bureaucratic’ ties. In turn, the prevalence of bureaucratic ties has a negative impact on collective action and trust. Another line of thinking, supported by institutional theory, suggests that universal welfare states crowd in social capital, in concomitance with the growth of voluntary and collective action. According to this school of thought, the welfare state decisively contributes to interpersonal and institutional trust. We discuss both arguments, utilising new empirical evidence to analyse in detail this long-standing issue.

Session 11: The Welfare State and the Competitive Advantage

  • One of the most important functions of the welfare state is to support the ‘economic system’ by strengthening different competitive advantages. In this regard, the lecture focuses on the Variety of Capitalism literature, which functionally describes the relation between the prevalence of ‘general’ and ‘specific’ skills within a country and the structure of social protection systems put in place to protect citizens. In addition, we analyse the perspective proposed by the ‘social investment’ literature: is it possible to conjugate protection face to new social risks and fuel at the same time social and economic ‘growth’?

Session 12: Welfare State Futures

  • The objective of this lecture is twofold. First we discuss the potential evolution of the welfare states, illustrating the (at the moment utopian) basic income idea and the mobilisation needed to deploy a social investment strategy. Second we re-cap the main concepts analysed in the previous eleven lectures.

Main Readings

  • Castles, F. et al. (eds.) (2010) The Oxford Handbook of the Welfare State, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Emmenegger, P. et al. (eds.) (2012) The Age of Dualization. The Changing Face of Inequality in Deindustrializing Societies,New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Hay, C. and Wincott, D. (2012) The Political Economy of European Welfare Capitalism, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Hemerijck, A. (2013) Changing Welfare States, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Morel, N., Palier, B., Palme, J. (2012) Towards a Social Investment State? Bristol: Policy Press.
  • Pierson, C., Castles, F.Gand Naumann, K. (eds.) (2014) The Welfare State Reader, 3rd Edition,Cambridge: Polity Press.

Supplementary readings

  • Esping-Andersen, G. (1990) The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism, Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • Esping-Andersen, G. (2009) The Incomplete Revolution. Adapting to Women’s new Roles, Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • Pierson, C. (2006) Beyond the Welfare State? The New Political Economy of Welfare, 3rd edition, Cambridge: Polity Press.