Comparative Welfare Systems

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course aims to provide students with the theoretical and methodological knowledge, which is necessary to analyse - in a historical-sociological perspective - the characteristics of comparative welfare systems as well as of their institutions and regulatory principles. A particular attention will be paid to the evolution of the European welfare systems and of the Italian one. Then, main welfare systems reforms of the last thirty years will be analysed and discussed, focusing on some policies and sectors such as healthcare and childcare. Moreover, students will have the opportunity to make use of the main conceptual and methodological tools learned in the course, in order to analyse the responses given by the Italian welfare system to the pandemic emergency determined by Covid-19.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course, students will have developed the skills that allow him/her both to analyse the characteristics and historical changes of the welfare systems, identifying social, economic and political causes and purposes, and to independently elaborate his/her own interpretation of the observed phenomena. The student will be able to identify main critical issues existing in the welfare systems and in their historical and recent reforms. Students will also develop adequate communication skills, with particular regard to the specific language relating to the theoretical and methodological aspects of the sociology of welfare systems. He/she will be able to properly discuss and argue his/her personal opinion and theses on situations connected to these studies as well as on topics that are proposed by the literature or that are empirically observable. Finally, students will know how to analyse, interpret and autonomously deepen - with the approach of the economic sociology and of the sociology of welfare systems - current social, economic and political phenomena concerning welfare institutions, particularly in the case of Italy and its territorial variations.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First trimester
In the phase of emergency lessons will be carried face-to-face and, at the same time, online in streaming, by using the Microsoft Teams platform, except in case of changes due to the health situation. Exams will consist of a written test. Exams will be carried out face-to-face, except for students who are not able to do them face-to-face because of health reasons. Only for these students, exams, which will consist of a written test, will be carried out on line.
Course syllabus
Welfare and welfare state. Main theoretical approach to the study of welfare systems. Explanatory factors. Origins of the welfare systems and historical evolution. The occupational and the universal model. Main types of welfare systems. Welfare regimes. The debate on welfare regimes.
The reform of the welfare systems. The new social risks. Austerity policies and their impact on the welfare systems. The concept of welfare recalibration. Main current changes in the welfare systems.
Welfare sectors and policies. Health-care policies. Long-term care policies. Anti-poverty policies.
The Italian welfare system in comparative perspective. Familism, particularism and dualisation. The regional and local welfare systems. The cases of the healthcare and childcare systems. Covid-19 pandemic and the Italian welfare system: critical issues; main responses; the National Plan of Resilience and Recovery. The case of the National Health Service.
Prerequisites for admission
No preliminary knowledge is required.
Teaching methods
The course will include lectures and discussions. Students will be stimulated to analyze problems and situations drawn by empirical knowledge, suggesting possibile solutions to critical elements which will emerge in the discussion. Some issues and case studies may be deepened with the participation of external experts and scholars. In the last part of the course, attending students will be invited to present and discuss with the teacher and the other students some texts concerning the responses of the Italian welfare systems to the Covid-19 emergency (see also the Assessment methods and Criteria).
Teaching Resources
1) Ranci C., Pavolini E. (2015), Le politiche di welfare, Bologna, Il Mulino (except for chapters 5, 6, 7 and 9).
2) Esping-Andersen G. (1999), Social Foundations of Postindustrial Economies, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
3) Maino F. (2019), La politica sanitaria, in M. Ferrera (a cura di), Le politiche sociali, Bologna, Il Mulino, III edition.
4) Neri S. (2020), I Comuni e i servizi per l'infanzia nell'ultmo decennio, in S. Neri (2020), Servizi di welfare e Comuni. Nuove politiche e trasformazioni organizzative, Roma, Carocci, pp. 39-73
5) Vicarelli G. e Neri S. (2021), Una catastrofe vitale? Le scelte di politica sanitaria per far fronte al Covid-19, in "Politiche sociali", n. 2, pp. 233-54, from the beginning of September 2021, downloadable from the catalogue of electronic journals of the University of Milan (…)
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam consists of a written test, including 10 questions (2-3 multiple choice questions and 7-8 open-ended questions). The test has to be perfomed in 1 hour. There is no oral examination.
The exam includes questions concerning both main theories of welfare illustrated in the course and in the references books, and case studies analysed in the course. The exam is aimed at assessing;
- students' knowledge and comprehension of the theories described in the course, allowing students to grasp the complexity of welfare systems, in their historical evolution, analysing their rules, structures, actor behaviors and changing processes, in a comparative perspective;
- the development of competences, which make students able to analyze how welfare systems and their institutions work, identifying some critical issues typical of each system and solutions which have been carried out;
- the acquisition of adequate communication skills, with particular regard to the specific language of the sociological studies of welfare and social policy. Students are required to show their ability to describe welfare system phenomena and properly discuss issues and situations, which are suggested by scientific literature or empirically observable;
- the development of learning abilities in behaviors, processes and phenomena which are typical of the welfare systems, considered in a comparative perspective, allowing them to deepen on their own main issues in this field of study.
Moreover, attending students will be invited to carry out an optional work, to be performed individually or in groups, which will be presented and discussed during the last part of the course. This work will focus on the responses by the Italian welfare systems to the pandemic emergency. It will be developed starting from the references texts of the last part of the program. The work will be evaluated and will contribute to the final mark of the exam, with a score from 0 to 5 points.
Lessons: 40 hours
Professor: Neri Stefano
Saturday,, 10:00-13:00. online. via Microsoft Teams or Skype. Please, contact the techer by the day before the reception hours, in order to agree an appointment
Microsoft Teams or Skype. If the receptions hours take place face-to-face, Room 6, New building (the building where lesson rooms 10, 11, 12, 13 are located)