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OAFP 5380 - Public Policy and research practice

Type d'enseignement : Elective

Semester : Autumn 2018-2019

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English



Course Description

The course is divided in three complementary parts: an introduction to the main principles of the research process and design, an analysis of several methodologies employed in public policy research, and a series of labs to apply knowledge and skills acquired during the first eight lectures to the family policy case. The first part introduces the process and the logics applied to public policy research. The instructor will highlight the main components of the research process and illustrate the process of understanding research through ‘quality' and ‘quantity'. It will also offer a description of the main research designs and datasets existent in the field. Particular attention will be paid to the experimental logic (that is also used to illustrate several criteria of validity in public policy research), but also other research designs (i.e. cross sectional, longitudinal, case-based and comparative logics) will be illustrated. The second part describes and analyzes how researchers in public policy apply various methodologies for different purposes: e.g. to offer descriptions, interpretations and illustrations of specific (or bundle of) policies and their outcomes, to establish relations of causation between different variables. Each session is divided in two parts: • A general introduction to various perspectives that can be used in public policy research. It is important to emphasize methods will not be introduced using the classical division between quantitative and qualitative research but rather according to their function. E.g., the description of specific policies can be pursued with quantitative or qualitative methods, or both. • One or more examples of research using a series of specific methods will be discussed with a standard format. The third part allows students to apply the concepts discussed in the previous eight lectures. Using different activities such as simulations, debates and presentations, students will approach concrete issues in the family policy field. The rising interest for family policy has come in the context of a parallel rise of female employment and the expansion of employment-oriented family policies.


FERRAGINA, Emanuele (Assistant Professor of Sociology at Sciences Po)

Course validation

The assessment includes three components: (1) Class participation (10%). (2) Group work (30%). Students will animate sessions 9, 10, 11 and 12. The exercises include: presentations on family policy regimes (four presentations during lecture 9), instruction of a debate on domestic work, employment and gender equality (two presentations during lecture 10), the proposition of a law project to reform family policy in a concrete context (two presentations during lecture 11), the analysis of family policy in a nation belonging to a specific family policy regime (four presentations during lecture 12). (3) Final Assignment (60%). For the final assignment each student will be part of a think tank specialized in family policy who pretends to become one of the first sources of information on the subject for non-scientific audiences. The task is to prepare a report presenting the family policy model of a country, its strengths, issues and potential policy recommendations to improve it. For this exercise students cannot choose United States, Iceland, France, Germany and Spain as these cases will be discussed during lecture 12. Students have to focus on the following aspects: - Belonging of the country to a family policy regime model - Historical trajectory - Main goals of the family policy model - Weakness and Strengths - Policy Recommendations For what concern the format, students have to produce a short report no longer than 1500 words. One of the challenges of this exercise is to be able to build on the theoretical tools acquired during the course and produce a well-documented product that can be understood by a broad audience (civil society organizations and citizens, public authorities, private companies, other scientists). Timeline: The final day to deliver your country report is the XXX at noon. For each day of delay, you will get one penalty point on the final grade.


Students are expected to read about 2 articles/chapters for each lecture and some additional material to prepare their specific group presentation.

Required reading

  • Brady, H. E., & Collier, D. Rethinking Social Inquiry: Diverse Tools, Shared Standards (2nd ed.), Plymouth: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2010
  • Bryman, A. Social Research Methods, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2012 (Fourth Edition). There is also a more recent edition published in 2015.
  • King, G., Keohane, R. & Verba, S. Designing Social Inquiry, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994
  • Ragin, C. The Comparative Method. Berkeley, University of California Press, 1987