Social Policy in Europe
The aim of the course is to provide students with analytical tools that enhance their abilities in exploring and explaining policy making within social policy and its ties to practices of social work and social services. Both bottom up and top down perspectives are thoroughly discussed. In the course, the processes of marginalisation in social life are central. In particular, the course deals with theoretical discussions of social exclusion and inclusion and subordination and domination, in social welfare as well as social work settings. Furthermore, the varying modes in which social policy deals with new forms of social marginalisation at different levels are examined.
This course consists of three main parts.
The first part of the course deals with theoretical discussions of social exclusion and inclusion as well as subordination and domination. Central in these discussions are the changes within the socio-economic processes. Furthermore, the different meanings of “exclusion” (and as a consequence inclusion) are explored within various theoretical approaches towards new forms of poverty and marginalization. A special focus is on the ways in which these different approaches link the “new” forms of poverty highlighted in the exclusion discourse with “traditional” social divisions such as class, gender and ethnicity. On the basis of these approaches social exclusion will be identified as a process, a multi-dimensional and cumulative phenomenon contextualized through a spatial dimension.
In the second part, we examine the different forms in which social policy deals with new forms of social marginalisation at different levels (subnational, national, regional, European). Parallel to the transformation of the social structure, the nation state as the main provider (or regulative framework) for social policies is being rescaled at various levels, and at the same time non-public actors increasingly carry out the provision of welfare. Here, the emphasis is on changes in the governance of the provision of social policy, above all the interaction of the national and the European level. Another topic is how labour market marginalisation and economic exclusion is dealt with in the European Employment Strategy with its particular division of labour between national and European actors.
Thirdly, social work and social policy management is commonly defined by its handling of social consequences from the capitalist society's ways of working. The term social problem is often used to describe a state requiring some form of action. How the consequences are experienced, defined, and assessed differs by who is offered to provide an opinion as well as by who has the ability of controlling a situation. In this context, the residualizing of social problems to individuals' or groups' problems is supported by one end of an ideological policy direction, while social rights as collective responsibilities are on the other. An ambition is therefore to let people, active in various levels of organizations in the field, provide challenging focuses to the questions of social welfare; consumers, welfare and case managers, welfare entrepreneurs, policymakers, and voters.