SA 317 – Social policy and social theory

SS 5400 – Social research project

Outline of Module – SA317, Research Project and Placement – SS5400 in the Higher Diploma 2005/2006

- dr. peter herrmann

The SA317 module will give an overview of social professions and their different understanding (a) from the point of view of different sub-sections of the professions, (b) in regard of different policy issues and (c) different socio-political actors. The use of the term social professional action is somewhat problematic. As will be shown, this is not meant to argue along the lines of recognised professions in the strict sense. Lay knowledge, social movements, social action and others will be seen as highly relevant in the context of social policy making. However, it is argued for a limitation of such openness in two points:

a) A more general concern is given by the fact that a too broad approach is not suitable to acknowledge the fact that basically any human action is influencing ‘the social’. However, at the same time there is some more specific area and action that requires special attention and – taking the given society as the point of reference – that can and has to be seen as distinct.

b) Furthermore, certain activities and actions require professional approaches – during the course it will be clarified what exactly this means. Already here, it can be said that accordingly in certain areas it is highly problematic to simply acknowledge lay knowledge, social activism and the like as equally suitable answers.

The discussion of these points will follow the line along developing an understanding of social policy. For this, the course will concentrate on different theories of the welfare-state and its emergence. Different traditions of thinking the relationship between

*   ‘society’ and ‘individual’ and

*   ‘institutions’ and ‘communities’

will be presented and elaborated.

Some general theoretical issues will be closely linked to questions of historical and contemporary political practice. ‘Theoretical issues’ means in this case not least that major methodological questions will be raised. These more general issues of political theory will be elaborated by presenting and discussing the process of European integration and the possible ‘emergence of the welfare state’. In addition, country studies on Sweden and Ireland will complement the course.

The work on the research project and as well the placement (SS5400) will be mainly concerned with the provision of social services. The relevance of this topic will be developed by looking at the current debate on services of general interest and social services in the EU. In a comparative perspective, social services in Ireland are highly underdeveloped. The provision of services will be evaluated in a comparative perspective, looking at Ireland and Sweden. – The research project will be undertaken as group work with individual parts.

The placement will be organised as study visit to Sweden and both research project and placement will strongly be linked to exchange with Swedish partners.

The course requires active participation of the students as they will be asked to make presentations during the year, actively facilitating classes and take part in collaborative research. This will be reflected in the marking scheme.

Participation in additional seminars, organised by the Department of Applied Social Studies (Open Door Talks, scheduled for Monday afternoons) is expected; contents of these Talks will be considered as relevant for exams.


The following mentions basic documents and should be read by all students attending the Module and taking part in the research project. However, in some cases you might find ‘equivalents’, substantially looking at the same topics, however providing the information in a way you find more suitable. There is no obligation to stick to the literature listed. However, make sure that the relevant topics are covered.

Additional literature will be mentioned during the year. As well, documents will be posted on the course website. So the documents listed in the following (in alphabetical order) are just a few ‘essentials’.


*   Allen, Kieran, 2000:   
The Celtic Tiger. The Myth of Social Partnership in Ireland; Manchester/New York, Manchester University Press

*   Baars, Jan/ Beck, Wolfgang/Herrmann, Peter/v.d. Maesen, Laurent J.G./Walker, Alan C., 2003:        
Social Quality. A Sustainable Project for Europe. Briefing Paper for the Round Table of the European Commission; Amsterdam: The European Foundation on Social Quality

*   Clancy, Patrick et alt. (eds.), 1995:        
Irish Society: Sociological Perspectives; Dublin: Institute of Public Administration

*   Commission of the European Communities/Council of the European Union, 2004:
Joint report by the Commission and the Council on social inclusion; Brussels: Council of the European Union; http://europa.eu.int/comm/employment_social/soc-prot/soc-incl/final_joint_inclusion_report_2003_en.pdf (look as well for newer documents with updated data)

*   Cousins, Mel, 1995:    
The Irish Social Welfare System. Law and social policy; Dublin: The Round Hall Press

*   Cousins, Mel, 2002:    
Social Welfare Law; 2nd ed; Dublin: Thomson Round Hall

*   Crouch, Colin, 1999:  
Social Change in Western Europe; Oxford: Oxford University Press

*   Curry, John, [1980] 2003          
Irish Social Services; 4th ed; Dublin: Institute of Public Administration

*   Dean, Hartley, 2002:   
Welfare Rights and Social Policy; Harlow: Pearson Education

*   Elias, Norbert, 1939:   
The Civilizing Process. Translated by Edmund Jephcott with some notes and corrections by the author; revised edition, ed. by Eric Dunning, Johan Goudsblom and Stephen Mennel; Oxford: Blackswell, 2000

*   Esping-Andersen, Gøsta, 1990:              
The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism; Cambridge: Polity Press

*   Geyer, Robert, 2000:  
Exploring European Social Policy; Cambridge: Polity Press

*   Goffman, Erving, 1974:             
Frame Analysis. An Essay on the Organization of Experience; New York: Harper & Row, 1986

*   Government of the Republic or Ireland:              
National Action Plan against Poverty and Social Exclusion 2003-2005; http://europa.eu.int/comm/employment_social/news/2001/jun/napincl_ir_en.pdf and http://europa.eu.int/comm/employment_social/news/2001/jun/annex_ir_en.pdf

*   Government of the Republic or Ireland:              
National Action Plan against Poverty and Social Exclusion (NAPincl) 2001-2003. Ireland; http://europa.eu.int/comm/employment_social/news/2001/jun/napincl2001irl_en.pdf

*   Herrmann, Peter, 2005:             
Politics and Policies in the European Union – Looking at the Hidden Agendas; New York: Nova

*   Lundström, Tommy/Wijkström, Filip, 1997:       
The Nonprofit Sector in Sweden; Johns Hopkins Sweden; Manchester/New York: Manchester University Press

*   Marshall, Tom H., 1950:           
Citizenship and Social Class; in: Marshall, Tom H./Bottomore, Tom: Citizenship and Social Class; London et altera: Pluto Press, 1992

*   Marx, Karl/Engels, Frederick, 1845-46:
The German Ideology. Critique of modern German Philosophy According to its Representatives Feuerbach, Ba. Bauer and Stirner, and of German Socialism According to its Various Prophets; in: Karl Marx/Frederick Engels. Collected Works. Volume 5. Marx and Engels: 1845-47; London: Lawrence& Wishart, 1976 (here pages 19-93)

*   Nash, Kate, 2000:        
Contemporary Political Sociology. Globalization, Politics, and Power; Malden/Oxford: Blackwell

*   Pierson, Christopher/Castles, Francis G. (Eds.), 2000:     
The Welfare State. A Reader; Cambridge: Polity Press

*   Porter, Sam, 1998        
Social Theory and Nursing Practice; Houndsmills: Palgrave

*   Quinn, Suzanne et altera (eds.), 1999:   
Contemporary Irish Social Policy; Dublin: University of Dublin Press

*   Regeringskansliet Sverige, Socialdepartementet: Sweden’s action plan against poverty and social exclusion 2003-2005, July 2003 (http://europa.eu.int/comm/employment_social/news/2001/jun/napincl_03_sv_en.pdf)

*   Regeringskansliet Sverige, Socialdepartementet: Update of Sweden’s action plan against poverty and social exclusion (2003-2005); September 2004 (http://europa.eu.int/comm/employment_social/news/2001/jun/nap_incl_0305_sv_en.pdf)

*   Regeringskansliet Sverige: Welfare in Sweden: The Balance Sheet for the 1990s (http://www.regeringen.se/sb/d/108/a/885)

*   Tovey, Hilary/Share, Perry, 20032:        
A Sociology of Ireland; Dublin: Gill&Macmillan