Essays and fundamental questions for the course

Basically it is up to students to decide on essays along their own preferences and experiences to choose a topic for the essays. There are two essays to be submitted during the year, for which the dates are


November, the 29th 2002 and


January, the 31st 2003.

The following topics are meant as possible areas - in any case they are giving you some ideas, still being broad enough to concretise them in own terms. Already choosing a topic, concretising the question and developing a hypothesis is an important - perhaps the most important part of the entire exercise.

Proposed topics for essays

  1. Travelling Community - History and Transformation

  2. Social Policy and Economics - Productive Factor, Redistribution or Change of Society?

  3. Workfare - Empowerment or enforced Integration?

  4. Social Care - Questions for Social Policy

  5. Social Care - What kind of Society Makes it Necessary? What Kind of Society Makes it Possible?

  6. Discuss the Role of Different Actors in Society?

As a rough guideline for the length of the essay I suggest 1000 to 1500 words. However, it is what you have to say that should determine how long the text is rather than the length that determines what you have to and can say.

General Questions

There are some basic questions that run throughout the entire course and that will employ the work from different perspectives. These can be summarised as follows:


There are different forms of differentiation, namely segmentary, social and functional differentiation. It is a major question for social science research the origins and consequences between these different forms. This includes as well the question if and how these different forms are related to each other. And it is important to reflect upon their meaning in particular for social policy.


Social Policy systems can be described in different form - guided not only by the various function nut as well building a kind of "system", an entity that is be seen as a welfare regime. Mainstream social policy approaches look in particular at the liberal, the corporatist and the social democratic system. Seemingly providing a guiding principle for the analysis of policies on a macro-level it is important as well to consider the overall meaning, including the meaning for the immediate way people are living together


Social provisions and social policy measures have different functions and different character. An example are different forms of housing - with for example the provision of shelter, the provision of a space to build up relationships to each other and the emergence of "social ownership". What is at least as important as the existence of such different forms - and this is cum grano salis valid for all measures and provisions - is that they all reflect a certain historical stage of development.


The necessity of such historic contextualisation is given as well - and even more so - in regard of women and their role in social policy.


Regarding the social policy dimensions the provisions and the position of certain groups as e.g. women relate to different functions as they are attributed to social policy throughout history. Moreover, even if we can draw differentiating lines between the main functions there are relationships of mutual support and conflict and contradiction.


Different social groups have a specific interest and perform in different ways as actors in society in general and social policy in particular. The role of such actors has to be again and again researched - be it as the evaluation and investigation of individual actors (for example an organisation as Simon Community) or as the evaluation and investigation of institutional settings (for instance the analysis of an emerging "new state" as the European Union).


Such analysis has to be carried out as well for policy settings as for example the European Structural Social Fund. There are certain catchwords that reflect European Social Policy Making - multidimensionality, participation and partnership in particular. Another set of criteria are are reflected in the targets of financial measures. There had been for example for a long time 6 "target regions" defined - each making funding available. It is important to see such instruments as a major concern of politics and policies rather than reducing the analysis on technicalities.